Burma's ruling party Tuesday chose its No. 4 ranked leader - Sein Lwin - as party chairman to replace Ne Win, who wielded authoritarian power over this Southeast Asian nation for a quarter century.

A brief news release said the Central Committee of the Burma Socialist Program Party elected the 64-year-old retired army general during a special session.Sein Lwin, a hardliner widely criticized for his ruthless handling of student demonstrations, has served as the party's joint general secretary since 1985. He also holds the government post of Council of State secretary.