Myanmar's prime minister and at least 17 other ministers and deputy ministers Monday resigned their military posts in what appears to be a step towards contesting upcoming polls, military sources said.
'Prime Minister Thein Sein has resigned his post as General in the army, so he is now just U (Mr) Thein Sein,' said a source, who asked to remain anonymous.
Myanmar state-run media did not immediately confirm the mass resignation, which appears to be in preparation for ex-military men to contest an upcoming election this year at a still unspecified date.
Myanmar's ruling junta has promised polls some time this year as part of their 'seven-step roadmap to democracy.'
Regulations on party registrations to contest the election were issued in March, which effectively forced the main opposition party the National League for Democracy (NLD) to choose between dropping their leader, Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, from their ranks or not contesting the polls.
The NLD chose not to contest. The regulations bar any person currently serving a prison term for being a political party member, a clause which seems aimed at Suu Kyi, who is serving an 18-month house detention sentence.
The junta is expected to register its own party soon which will be led by ex-military men.
People holding military positions are not permitted to contest the election.
Observers believe the polls will bring a pro-military 'elected' government to power that will assure the generals' stranglehold on the country, which has been ruled by military dictatorships since 1962.