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Myanmar president announces Cabinet reshuffle

YANGON, Myanmar — The country’s president announced a major Cabinet reshuffle Monday, a move analysts see as advancing Myanmar’s reformist agenda.

The shake-up is the biggest since President Thein Sein’s government took office from the former military junta in March 2011 and launched a wave of dramatic measures that have surprised the world and prompted Western powers to ease crippling sanctions.

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Rumors have swirled for months about a possible reshuffle.

The announcement said the overhaul affects nine of several dozen Cabinet posts. Some 15 new deputy ministers are also being appointed.

Among the most prominent changes is the replacement of Information Minister Kyaw Hsan, widely seen as a hard-liner. He was replaced by ­Labor and Social Welfare Minister Aung Kyi, who has also acted as a liaison between the government and the pro­democracy opposition leader, Aung San Suu Kyi.

The information ministry oversees local and foreign media and the film industry, and has supervised the approval of visas for foreign correspondents. Kyaw Hsan was kept in government, however, and appointed to head the Cooperatives Ministry.

The presidential statement did not name all of the new ministers, but said several outgoing ministers — most considered reformists — would be moved to four new ministerial-level posts in the president’s office.

Over the last year, Thein Sein’s government has spearheaded unprecedented change in Myanmar, relaxing decades of harsh rule and allowing freedoms previously unheard of in the Southeast Asian nation.

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