The NLD won some 80 percent of elected seats in November's
historic vote, catapulting it to power as Myanmar's ruling party
after decades of struggle that saw many of its members imprisoned.
But the junta-drafted constitution means the party will have to
share power with the army that for years suppressed, often brutally,
the Nobel Peace Prize laureate and her allies.
The first sitting of the NLD-dominated parliament is another step in
Myanmar's drawn-out transition, which started with the election and
will go on until the NLD government officially begins its term in
April after parliament has picked a president.
"This is Myanmar's first parliament in years that was chosen by the
people," said Pyon Cho, who is now a lawmaker and spent 20 years in
jail as a member of the anti-junta group the 88 Generation Students.
"We have the majority. We have the duty to fulfil our manifesto and
change the lives of the people in this country."
Some new members looked disoriented as they wandered through the
enormous parliament building in the purpose-built capital raised by
the junta in secret from the rice paddies.
The presidential nomination process is likely to take place later in
the month, NLD members said.
Under the 2008 constitution, Suu Kyi is barred from taking the
position because her children are not Myanmar citizens. She has
given no indication as to who will take over from outgoing President
Thein Sein and the NLD has no clear number two.
Suu Kyi has said she will be "above the president" and in complete
control of the government, but the NLD has not explained how she
will do this.
Each of the parliament's two chambers will choose a presidential
candidate and the military officials who hold a quarter of seats
will also put forward their own nominee.
A combined session of the chambers will then vote on the three
candidates. The winner will become president, with the other two
serving as vice presidents.
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This week, the NLD will focus on appointing parliamentary speakers,
who were announced last week. It will also prepare for the start of
state and regional assemblies on Feb. 8, some in places dominated by
large ethnic minorities such as Shan State in the east or Rakhine in
Expectations are towering for Suu Kyi, who is regarded with an
almost religious zeal in the Southeast Asian nation. Suu Kyi spent
15 years under house arrest after the NLD won an election in 1990.
The junta never recognised the result of that vote.
Myanmar's 51.5 million people expect the NLD to fix everything, from
completing the transformation of an economy stunted by decades of
isolation to bringing peace to states riven by ethnic conflict.
"They (people) hope that every problem will be solved automatically
after the NLD becomes the government, FDI (foreign direct
investment) will come in," said Shwe Mann, the outgoing speaker of
parliament, who is close to Suu Kyi despite being a former leader of
the junta-linked Union Solidarity and Development Party.
"To accomplish the challenges, they need to choose the right people
and put them in right positions," said Shwe Mann. "This is also my
main concern, because it will decide the performance of her
(Editing by Simon Webb and Alex Richardson)
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