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The lifting of martial law decrees in Burma will have very little effect on the lives of citizens and does not mean any loosening of the military's grip on power in the impoverished Southeast Asian country, diplomats and observers say.

The country's military junta last week revoked some martial law decrees, but others, such as the banning of gatherings of more than five people, remain in effect. Two decrees in force since mid-July 1989 were revoked.

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Diplomats in Rangoon say that despite reforms the State Law and Order Restoration Council (SLORC) has no intention of giving up power soon.

"Military rule is still in place," said Bertil Lintner, author of several books on modern Burma, which the junta has renamed Myanmar.

The junta shook up the country's government, creating new ministries and giving them to senior SLORC generals.

A diplomat in Rangoon said the appointments suggested the junta was consolidating and centralizing its administration rather than preparing to step aside.

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