Vol. 5 Num 514 Mon. November 07, 2005  

Myanmar moving key ministries out of Yangon

Myanmar's military junta on Sunday began moving officials from key ministries including the foreign ministry to a secret location in the north as part of a massive relocation plan, officials said.

The relocation of the commerce, foreign, home affairs and post and telecommunication ministries to Pyinmana, about 200 miles (320 km) north of the capital Yangon, began early on Sunday, they said.

Analysts have said the move, which has been under preparation for several months, was prompted by fears of an invasion by the United States, one of the junta's staunchest critics.

They said the 2003 US-led invasion of Iraq apparently reinforced Yangon's fears.

While there was no official announcement on the relocation, a ministry source told AFP that the junta ordered all the ministries on Friday to move half of their staff including deputy ministers to Pyinmana.

But the source said ministers can stay in Yangon. The government ordered the relocation process to be completed by April 2006.

Onw foreign ministry official told AFP that staff began leaving at 6 am for Pyinmana.

"We have no time to prepare for this. I left my wife and my two children here. I worry for them. But I have no choice but to go there," the official said.