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Former Myanmar president Thein Sein 'becomes a monk': State media
The Straits Times, April 5, 2016
YANGON, Myanmar -- The retired junta general who steered Myanmar's last five years of reforms has temporarily become a monk, according to state media, days after he ceded power to a new government led by Aung San Suu Kyi's pro-democracy party.
Pictures widely shared on social media showed a shaven-headed Thein Sein wearing his trademark spectacles and draped in the deep maroon robes of the Buddhist clergy.
Myanmar language state newspaper Myanma Alinn said he had entered a monastery in the central town of Pyin Oo Lwin on Monday for a five-day stint, taking the monk title "U Thandidamma".
"Those close to U Thein Sein said he will practice meditation during a temporary monkhood of about five days," the paper said.
It added that he had promised Buddhist elders he would be ordained as a monk once he finished his role as president.
Thein Sein, a former junta general, led Myanmar's quasi-civilian transitional government through five stunning years of reform, as the nation opened up to the world after decades of repressive and isolating army rule.
Only a few years earlier the junta led a violent crackdown on largely monk-led protests that were dubbed the "Saffron Revolution".
The unobtrusive 70-year-old handed power to Suu Kyi and her proxy president Htin Kyaw last week.
While not in parliament he is expected to continue to lead his army-backed party, now in opposition after Suu Kyi's party won landmark November polls in a landslide.