Asia

Myanmar MPs meet for first time since election

Military parliament members arrive for Myanmar's first parliament meeting after November 8th general elections, at the Lower House of Parliament in Nay Pyi Taw November 16, 2015. Image copyright Reuters
Image caption The military control a quarter of parliament's seats - and will be the largest bloc after the NLD

Myanmar's parliament is meeting for the first time since Aung San Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy (NLD) won an election landslide last week.

The session does not include new MPs - members who lost their seats remain in office until the end of January.

Ms Suu Kyi made no comment as she was mobbed by journalists at parliament.

She had earlier criticised the long handover, calling the constitution "very silly", but correspondents say she appears willing to bide her time.

If power is transferred, it will end more than 50 years of military-backed government in Myanmar, also known as Burma.

While they remain in parliament, the existing MPs can continue to pass laws - there are fears they could even set the budget a new opposition-led government will inherit next year.

Having won nearly 80% of contested seats, Ms Suu Kyi is expected to meet both the president and the commander in chief of the army to discuss arrangements for a transition.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Ms Suu Kyi is barred from the presidency under the constitution

Outgoing Speaker Shwe Mann, who lost his seat for the ruling USDP, has urged the party's lawmakers to do their "best for the people" in the remaining debates.

"Although we won't be coming back, we need to do our best to perform the responsibilities of lawmakers, truthfully and faithfully," he told the new session, Reuters reports.

Only once the "lame duck" session ends will the new NLD-dominated parliament gather. It will immediately choose a new Speaker, quite possibly Ms Suu Kyi, before selecting two vice-presidents and a president.

Does the NLD now control Myanmar?

Not really - it has enough seats in the upper and lower house to choose the president but the army has 25% of seats and controls key ministries, so they will need to work together.

Image caption The NLD unveiled a banner outside their headquarters after the win was confirmed saying "The Way We Trust"

Will Aung San Suu Kyi be president?

No - the constitution, written by the military, bars people with foreign spouses or offspring, as she does, from the top job. The clause was widely seen as being written specifically to prevent her from taking office. But Ms Suu Kyi has repeatedly said she would lead the country anyway if the NLD won.

Can the NLD just change the constitution?

No - the military can veto any moves to change it.

Was the election fair?

"Largely," said Ms Suu Kyi. But hundreds of thousands of people, including the minority Muslim Rohingya, were not allowed to vote, and no voting took place in seven areas where ethnic conflict is rife.

About 30 million people were eligible to vote in the election - turnout was estimated at about 80%.

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Media captionAung San Suu Kyi: "There's a lot more to be done"

It was widely seen as a fair vote though there were reports of irregularities, and hundreds of thousands of people - including the Muslim Rohingya minority, who are not recognised as citizens - were denied voting rights.