[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated: Monday, 27 March 2006, 09:36 GMT 10:36 UK
Burma's new capital stages parade
Burmese troops parade at the Armed Forces Day in Pyinmana
Observers saw marching troops, but little else
Burma has staged its first official ceremony in its new administrative capital with a massive display of military force.

More than 12,000 troops took part in a parade in the capital, near Pyinmana, which was officially named Naypyidaw or "seat of kings" on Monday.

It is not clear why the secretive ruling junta moved the capital from Rangoon.

State TV only showed footage of troops, rather than of the capital itself.

Monday's parade was to mark Armed Forces Day which commemorates the Burmese military's uprising against the Japanese during World War II.

Addressing the troops, head of state Than Shwe said the country needed a strong military during its move to "disciplined democracy".

Burma has not had a constitution since the junta seized power in 1988.

In his address, Senior General Than Shwe said the military was striving to create peace and stability so that a multi-party democracy could exist.

Burma's Senior General Than Shwe
In order to ward off any danger befalling the country, our military, together with the people, must be strong, efficient, patriotic and modern
Sr Gen Than Shwe

"The people, together with the military must also strive hard to build a modern, developed state where disciplined democracy flourishes," he said.

Burma has pledged to allow democracy under strong pressure from its neighbours as well as the US and other Western powers, but has so far failed to deliver.

The State Peace and Development Council abruptly announced in November it was moving the government to remote Pyinmana, 600km (373 miles) north of Rangoon.

Than Shwe made no mention of the capital in his speech on Monday.

The reasons for moving the capital are unclear. Some analysts point to a paranoia among senior military figures that they might come under attack, potentially from the United States, and that a location further from the coast is strategically safer.

But others suggest the military leaders are simply repeating the habits of the Burmese kings in pre-colonial times who built new towns and palaces on the advice of fortune tellers.

Civil servants, who received a sharp pay increase at the weekend, complained on Monday about poor infrastructure and boredom, Reuters news agency reported.

"I'll probably save some money if I stay here. I'm single and I'm not after any amusement or pleasure," Ko Soe Aung, a clerk, told the agency.

Some top-ranked officials will see their salary soar more than 1,000%, according to a document circulated to various ministries.

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites


Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific