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Asia-pacific

Burmese parliament set for its first historic session in 22 years

Text by News Wires

Latest update : 2011-01-10

Burma's new parliament will hold its first session in 22 years on Jan. 31, state radio said Monday. Military rulers hail the new legislature as democratic while opposition parties continue to criticise the newly formed assembly.

AFP- Myanmar's new parliament is to convene for the first time on January 31, state media announced Monday, two months after the military-ruled country held a rare but widely criticised election.
              
The two-chamber parliament will meet in the capital Naypyidaw, while new regional legislatures will convene at the same time, government-controlled television reported, quoting an order from junta chief Senior General Than Shwe.
              
The main army-backed party claimed an overwhelming victory in the November 7 poll -- Myanmar's first in 20 years -- with about 80 percent of available seats. An official final tally of results has not been announced.
              
Under Myanmar's 2008 constitution, parliament need not meet more than once a year.
              
One quarter of the places in parliament were already reserved for the military, which together with its political proxy will have a comfortable majority for passing laws and electing the president.
              
It is unclear what role Than Shwe plans for himself.
              
Myanmar, ruled by the military since 1962, has been condemned by the West for an election critics say was a sham designed to cloak ongoing army rule.
              
The vote was widely criticised by democracy activists and Western governments owing to allegations of fraud and intimidation as well as the exclusion of opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi.
              
Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy (NLD) party was forced to disband for boycotting the election in response to rules that seemed designed to bar the Nobel Peace Prize winner from taking part.
              
The democracy icon has spent most of the past 20 years locked up but was freed from her latest seven-year stretch of confinement just days after the poll.
              
Her party won a landslide election victory in 1990 but it was never recognised by the regime.
              
The boycott decision deeply split the opposition movement, with a group of former Suu Kyi colleagues who disagreed with her stance breaking away to form a new party -- the National Democratic Force -- to fight the poll.
              
It won 16 seats after fielding 161 candidates but has complained of widespread fraud by the junta-backed Union Solidarity and Development Party.
              
More than 3,000 candidates took part in the election for about 1,160 seats available in the national and regional parliaments.
              
Two pro-junta parties together fielded about two-thirds of the candidates and the opposition was absent in many areas.

Date created : 2011-01-10

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