Myanmar’s junta on Thursday ordered the hoisting of a new national flag as specified by the country’s new constitution, even though it is not yet in force.

“We received instructions to change the new flag at exactly 3 pm,” a government official who requested anonymity told the German Press Agency. State radio and television announced the flag change as breaking news. “There may be some astrological thing,” one official speculated.

Myanmar’s military supremo Senior General Than Shwe is thought to lay great importance on numerology and astrology when planning the timing of political developments. Myanmar’s new flag has three horizontal bands of yellow, green and red, with a large white star in centre. It replaces the old red flag with a blue corner containing 14 white stars in a circle around a cogwheel and a rice plant. Government offices around the country hoisted the new flag simultaneously. In Naypyitaw, the new capital, Prime Minister Thein Sein attended the raising of the new flag at government offices. Yangon Mayor Aung Thein Lin oversaw a similar ceremony at the city hall, witnesses said. The military-backed constitution, which includes the description of the new flag, will not go into effect until a new parliament is elected in polls scheduled for November 7.

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