Myanmar parliament begins historic new session | News | DW | 01.02.2016
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Myanmar parliament begins historic new session

New members of parliament have taken up their seats in Myanmar after Aung San Suu Kyi's pro-democracy party wrested control from the military. Among its roles will be the selection of a new president.

Hundreds of new delegates took their place in Myanmar's parliament on Monday, after last year's historic election win for the National League for Democracy (NLD).

The NLD lawmakers, led by pro-democracy activist Aung San Suu Kyi, won a landslide majority in November's polls, and have promised to reform the constitution and curb the powers of the military. The party won 80 percent of elected seats, although it still faces hurdles in its quest for reform.

"We will work to get human rights and democracy as well as peace," NLD MP Nyein Thit told the AFP news agency as he arrived at parliament in the capital, Naypyidaw.

One of the first decisions for the new parliament will be to vote on new parliamentary speakers, but it will also choose the next president.

Suu Kyi is barred from the role by a constitution drafted by the military, because she married and had children with a foreigner. However, she has vowed to sidestep this hurdle by ruling "above" a proxy president.

Military keeps ministries

There is no clear schedule for the selection of presidential candidates, but it could take place within days.

Myanmar Friedensgespräche Aung San Suu Kyi

Suu Kyi spent 15 years under house arrest after winning the 1990 election

Military appointees still hold a quarter of the seats in both the lower and upper houses of parliament, enough to block any changes to the constitution. The army also holds important ministries.

Both elected members and the military will nominate three candidates to succeed President Thein Sein, who stays in his post until the end of March and has promised a smooth transition of power. His successor will be chosen by a vote of the combined houses.

The outgoing president told parliament on Thursday that the country still has problems, such as an incomplete peace process with ethnic minority rebels, a crumbling infrastructure and stalled economic development.

The military has held power since 1962, ruling either directly or through proxy governments. It called an election in 1990, which Suu Kyi's party won handsomely.

However, the military annulled the results and Suu Kyi was placed under house arrest for 15 of the next 22 years.

rc/gsw (AFP, dpa, Reuters)

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