Myanmar’s New Parliament to Hold First Meeting on Feb. 1

myanmar-shwe-mann-parliament-dec1-2015.jpg Myanmar's parliamentary speaker Shwe Mann attends a regular legislative meeting in Naypyidaw, Dec. 1, 2015.

Myanmar’s newly-elected parliament will convene on Feb. 1, the speaker of the lower house said Wednesday, ushering in a new era of democratic reform under a government led by the opposition National League for Democracy (NLD) party.

The current parliament under the military-backed Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) will hold its final meeting on Jan. 29, and its session will end two days later, said Shwe Mann, the influential speaker of Myanmar’s lower chamber.

In the meantime, incoming elected members of parliament (MPs) have received invitations to the Feb. 1 session and must confirm their attendance by Jan. 26.

“What I understand is that new MPs will be brought into the parliament a week before the next parliamentary session,” Hla Tun, secretary of the parliament’s Draft Law Committee, told RFA’s Myanmar Service.

New and current MPs will have lunch together, and the new lawmakers will observe how parliament works during the last week of current legislative session, he said.

Shwe Mann will select a temporary parliamentary speaker, who will appoint the two new permanent speakers of the lower and upper chambers after they are elected by lawmakers, Hla Tun said.

The upper and lower houses of parliament and the military, which holds a quarter of the seats in the legislature by appointment, will each put forth a candidate for president.

Lawmakers will cast votes for the candidates, and the winner will become president, while the others fill the two vice presidential slots.

The NLD, which won roughly 80 percent of the vote in general election on Nov. 8, has not yet revealed the names of those it intends to put forward for the nation’s top post.

NLD chairwoman Aung San Suu Kyi cannot become president because the constitution bars anyone with close foreign relatives from assuming the office.

Aung San Suu Kyi’s two sons are British citizens, as was her late husband.

Nevertheless, she has said that she will occupy a position above the president in the new government, but has provided no details.

The new government must be formed before March 31, the date on which the current one will be dissolved.

On the following day, President Thein Sein will transfer power to the new president.

The new president must submit a list of  ministers and other top leaders, who will later take an oath before the Union parliamentary speaker, said Ye Tun, a lawmaker from the Shan Nationalities Democratic Party.

Afterwards, state power will be transferred to the new government.

Reported by Win Naung Toe, Thinn Thiri and Myo Thant Khine for RFA’s Myanmar Service. Translated by Khet Mar. Written in English by Roseanne Gerin.


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