Saturday, 27 March 2010

Burma stages landmark army parade (BBC News)

Thousands of soldiers are taking part in Burma's annual Armed Forces Day parade in the capital Nay Pyi Taw.

The parade will be the last before elections later this year which should replace Burma's military government.

Military ruler General Than Shwe is expected to address the crowds, outlining Burma's moves towards democracy.

However, critics say the military is aiming to keep power even after the elections.

No date for the poll has yet been set.

Future role

Analysts say it may be revealed in Saturday's speeches from the generals along with possible indications of Than Shwe's future role.

There has been speculation that he will want to remain as army chief or may try to become president.

"They will talk about ideology, policy and the steps they've taken towards democracy," said Aung Naing Oo, a Burmese academic based in Thailand.

"More symbolic is their attempt to show everyone at home and abroad that the military will not, and must not, be discounted."

Burma recently revealed new laws under which the multi-party elections will take place.

Many key opposition figures - including detained leader Aung San Suu Kyi - are not allowed to take part.

Members of religious orders are also banned from taking part, a rule which covers the monks who led anti-government protests two years ago.