Burma's parliament begins new session dominated by Aung San Suu Kyi's party

NAYPYITAW, Burma -- Burma's parliament dominated by pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi's party on Monday began a new and historic session that will install the country's first democratically elected government in more than 50 years.

See Full Article

The National League for Democracy won a landslide in the Nov. 8 elections, winning 80 percent of the seats in the two houses of parliament to defeat the military-backed Union Solidarity and Development Party.

Legislators from the two parties and from smaller ethnic minority parties as well as nominated military representatives filed into the cavernous parliament for the session in which the members took a joint oath of office.

The session marks a historic turnaround for the NLD, which for years was suppressed by the military, which had ruled the country directly or indirectly after seizing power in 1962. NLD leaders including Suu Kyi and other critics were jailed, and overt political activity was crushed.

The Southeast Asian nation started moving away from dictatorship toward democracy in 2011, when the military rulers agreed to hand over power to a nominally civilian government headed by President Thein Sein, a general turned reformist.

He will stand down in late March or early April when an NLD president takes over.

Suu Kyi is constitutionally barred from taking the presidency, and has vowed to rule from behind the scenes through a proxy. She has not announced who her party will nominate for president.

"We don't know exactly when the presidential election will happen. We cannot tell you anything about who will be nominated as the presidential candidates as well," said Zayar Thaw, an NLD legislator.

Despite its landslide victory, the NLD in practice will have to share power with the military, for which the constitution reserves 25 percent of the seats in parliament. Suu Kyi has met with senior military leaders to try to ensure a smooth change of government, and they have vowed not to interfere.

Thein Sein's military-backed USDP won a 2010 election in which the NLD refused to participate, protesting that it was held under unfair conditions. After several changes in the election law, the NLD contested several dozen by-elections in 2012, winning virtually all of them.

The military called an election in 1990, which Suu Kyi's party won handsomely, only to see the results annulled by the military and many of its leading members harassed and jailed.

Suu Kyi was put under house arrest prior to the 1990 election and spent 15 of the next 22 years mostly confined to her lakeside villa in Yangon. She was under house arrest when she won the 1991 Nobel Peace Prize.

Establishing democracy is only one hurdle the country faces. The new government will also have to contend with various ethnic rebellions in several parts of the country. The military-backed government signed a peace pact with more than dozen smaller ethnic armies before the elections but major groups have stayed away, and fighting continues in many states. Most are fighting for autonomy and rights over their resource-rich land.

"I hope this will be a good opportunity for us to speak out for the ethnic people and demand indigenous rights," said Lama Naw Aung, a lower house member from the Kachin State Democracy Party, representing the Kachin minority who are engaged in ongoing battles with the army in the east of the country.

"I think there will be a change because Aung San Suu Kyi might want to finish the work for the ethnics that her father didn't get a chance to do," he said, referring to Burma's independence hero Aung San who united various national groups. He and six of his colleagues were assassinated in July 1947, six months before Burma's independence.


Latest Canada & World News

  • Peru's congress ready to replace scandal-tainted president

    World News CTV News
    LIMA, Peru -- Peru's congress is expected to vote Friday to accept President Pedro Pablo Kuczysnki's resignation and swear in as his replacement a politician who the vast majority of voters never even heard of until recently. Source
  • Condo fire in southern Vietnam kills at least 13

    World News CBC News
    A fire at a condominium complex in Vietnam's Ho Chi Minh City early Friday morning killed at least 13 people and injured another 27, police said. State media said most people died of suffocation or jumping from high floors. Source
  • Former Playboy model says Trump tried to pay her after sex

    World News CBC News
    A former Playboy model apologized to Melania Trump for a 10-month affair she claims she had with U.S. President Donald Trump that started with him offering her money after the first time they had sex. During an interview with CNN's Anderson Cooper that aired Thursday night, Karen McDougal said Trump tried to pay her after their first sexual tryst at a bungalow at the Beverly Hills Hotel in 2006. Source
  • Family finally learns fate of Canadian shot down over Germany in 1944

    Canada News CTV News
    More than 73 years after 23 Allied soldiers and airmen perished when the transport plane they were flying in was shot down over Nazi Germany, one of their families finally has answers about their grandfather’s last day during the war. Source
  • Gone extinct: Animatronic T-Rex bursts into flames

    World News CTV News
    CANON CITY, Colo. -- The co-owner of a dinosaur-themed park in southern Colorado thinks an electrical malfunction caused a life-size animatronic Tyrannosaurus Rex to burst into flames. Zach Reynolds says the T-Rex at the Royal Gorge Dinosaur Experience smouldered for about 10 minutes before it caught fire Thursday morning. Source
  • First Nations face dozens of boil water advisories on World Water Day

    Canada News CTV News
    The United Nations marked World Water Day by highlighting a troubling statistic: 40 per cent of the global population faces water scarcity, with more than 2 billion people living without safe access to fresh water. Source
  • School shooting victim 'brain dead,' life support ending

    World News CTV News
    A teenage girl who was shot when a classmate opened fire inside their Maryland high school is brain dead and is being removed from life support, her mother said Thursday. Melissa Willey told news reporters Thursday night that her daughter, 16-year-old Jaelynn Willey has "no life left in her. Source
  • Bolton may push rightward shift in Trump's foreign policy

    World News CTV News
    WASHINGTON -- John Bolton, U.S. President Donald Trump's incoming national security adviser -- and his third to date -- is a divisive foreign policy figure who was an unabashed supporter of the Iraq war and advocates regime change in Iran. Source
  • China says it may hike tariffs on U.S. pork, other goods

    World News CBC News
    China has announced a list of U.S. goods including pork and aluminum pipe it says may be hit by higher tariffs in response to President Donald Trump's higher import duties on steel and aluminum. The Commerce Ministry on Friday called on Washington to reach a negotiated settlement of the dispute "as soon as possible" but gave no deadline. Source
  • B.C. man who ran airborne drug-smuggling ring pleads guilty in U.S. court

    Canada News CTV News
    SEATTLE -- A Canadian man who ran a helicopter-based drug-smuggling ring years before Washington state legalized marijuana pleaded guilty to a conspiracy charge Thursday, after fighting his extradition to the U.S. for much of the past decade. Source