Retired junta general Thein Sein who steered Myanmar’s last five years of reforms has temporarily become a monk, days after he ceded power to a new government led by Aung San Suu Kyi’s pro-democracy party.
Myanmar’s ministry of information released a statement on its Facebook page on Monday saying that Thein Sein will spend five days at the Dhamma Dipati monastery outside Pyin Oo Lwin, a scenic hill town near Mandalay in the centre of the country.
A temporary stint at a monastery is common in the predominantly Buddhist country, where boys are expected to ordain as novice monks at some point in their childhood and then return later in adulthood.
Thein Sein has not spoken publicly about temporarily becoming a monk but the official statement indicated he has been considering it since at least January when he attended a Buddhist conference in Myanmar.
“Recently, the country’s most respected monk, Sitagu, urged ex-president Thein Sein to enter into the Buddhist monkhood when he attended the World Buddhist Conference,” the statement from the ministry of information said.