Members of Aung San Suu Kyi’s victorious pro-democracy party will take their seats in parliament on February 1, Myanmar’s speaker said today, beginning a new era for a nation under army rule for decades.
Suu Kyi led her National League for Democracy to a big majority in landmark elections in November, crowning the struggle against almost half a century of military rule.
In a statement parliamentary speaker Shwe Mann announced that “all MPs (are) to start the new parliament at 10am on Monday February 1, 2016”.
But the new government will take office slowly under the complex political system—it can only be formed after current President Thein Sein steps down on March 31.
The NLD-dominated legislature replaces the incumbent one of the Union Solidarity and Development Party, a quasi-civilian junta spin-off that has ruled the country since the end of outright military rule in 2011.
First on the MPs’ to-do list is choosing the next president.
Parliament will select the president from three candidates put forward by the upper and lower houses and the military— which holds a quarter of the legislature’s seat under the constitution.
The junta-drafted constitution bars Suu Kyi from the role because she married and had children with a foreigner.
She has said she would rule “above” a proxy, without giving details of how this arrangement might work or who she wants to be president.
Thein Sein’s government introduced major political and economic reforms that culminated in the November poll, which has given the country a glimpse of a democratic future.
But the new government faces formidable challenges, including reviving an economy left to rot by the junta and ending ongoing civil wars.
Much rests on the relationship between Suu Kyi and the military, which held her under house arrest for some 15 years during the junta era. Despite the reforms the army retains huge political and economic sway.
Since her poll victory Suu Kyi has reached out to the army, urging her supporters to seek reconciliation rather than revenge after the brutal junta years.