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.



Advertisements

Latest Canada & World News

  • 3 dogs give avalanche rescuers hope but 22 people missing

    World News Toronto Sun
    FARINDOLA, Italy — Rescue crews say they have found three puppies alive in the rubble of an Italian mountain hotel slammed by an avalanche. Firefighter spokesman Fabio German said the discovery signals that there are still chances of finding some of the 23 people still buried under the snow alive. Source
  • Defence lawyer in Quebec terrorism trial argues confession is inadmissible

    Canada News CTV News
    MONTREAL -- The case of a Quebec man charged with attempting to leave the country to participate in the activities of a terrorist group is hearing arguments about the admissibility of his statements to police. Source
  • Psychologists say they can inoculate people against fake news

    World News CBC News
    Researchers have found that there may be a way to vaccinate people against climate change misinformation. The key? Telling them lies. A team of psychologists from the University of Cambridge, Yale University and George Mason University studied the effect of "fake news" about climate change and how it can shift people's opinions. Source
  • Student stabbed in chest at Toronto school

    Canada News CTV News
    TORONTO -- Police say a 17-year-old boy has been rushed to hospital with serious injuries after being stabbed in the chest at a Toronto school. They say his injuries are not life-threatening and they have a suspect in custody. Source
  • Lawsuit alleges Trump business ties violate Constitution [Video]

    World News Toronto Sun
    NEW YORK — A lawsuit Monday alleged that President Donald Trump is violating the Constitution by allowing his business to accept payments from foreign governments. Trump is violating the so-called emoluments clause in the Constitution that prohibits him from receiving money from diplomats for stays at his hotels or foreign governments for leases of office space in his buildings, according to the suit filed by a legal watchdog group. Source
  • Alta. woman robbed, assaulted after stopping to help with broken down car

    Canada News CTV News
    CALGARY -- A Good Samaritan who stopped to help four women by an apparently broken down car was robbed and assaulted west of Calgary. RCMP say the woman was driving east on the Trans-Canada Highway near Highway 68 on Saturday when she saw four women standing beside a car with the hood up. Source
  • Garland trial: RCMP found blood, burning barrel after accused's arrest

    Canada News CTV News
    CALGARY -- A trial has heard that RCMP mounted what they thought was going to be a rescue mission at the home of a man charged in the disappearance of a Calgary couple and their five-year-old grandson. Source
  • Trump critics pounce on DoD tweet about mental health

    World News CTV News
    The U.S. Department of Defence put out a rather on-the-nose tweet about recognizing the signs of mental illness on social media Monday, triggering a wave of snide remarks that the message was aimed at U.S. Source
  • White House press secretary: Round 2 LIVE

    World News CBC News
    Tamara Lovett, charged with negligence in death of 7-year-old son, to learn fate Source
  • White House press secretary LIVE

    World News CBC News
    Tamara Lovett, charged with negligence in death of 7-year-old son, to learn fate Source