Triumphant Suu Kyi returns to parliament


Aung San Suu Kyi

Myanmar’s Aung San Suu Kyi returned to parliament in the capital Naypyitaw on Monday along with dozens of Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) rivals soundly beaten in her National League for Democracy’s landslide victory.

The legislature will now begin to oversee the delicate transition from military rule.

Journalists swamped Suu Kyi as she arrived but she declined to comment, continuing her low-profile approach to victory.

The military-drafted constitution bars her from the presidency but she has vowed to rule “above” the next president, who now has the parliamentary majority to select.

But USDP MPs will dominate the final parliamentary session of this administration which is due to last until at least the end of January.

The Nobel laureate is banned from becoming president because she has foreign children.

Observers predict an unstable period of political horse-trading as NLD leaders jostle for the presidency.

NLD spokesman Win Htein said the party saw the size of its victory mirrored its landslide success in the 1990 election, which was ignored by the generals.

“This time, although we are quite glad that we won, we worry that history may repeat itself. We don’t think the transition will be 100-per-cent perfect,” he said.

Suu Kyi, 70, has taken a conciliatory approach in victory, dampening celebrations and requesting talks with President Thein Sein, commander-in-chief Min Aung Hlaing and parliament Speaker Shwe Mann, all junta heavyweights.

All three have accepted the invitation but only Shwe Mann, whose eagerness to work with Suu Kyi has alienated other members of the military elite, has set a date for his meeting – Thursday.

Thein Sein, whose quasi-civilian government has ruled since 2011, said the elections were the result of his reforms and sought to reassure Myanmar’s nervous populace that the transition would be smooth.

The armed forces, which reserves 25 per cent of the seats in parliament, giving it a veto on any constitutional reform, also pledged to support the transition.

But Suu Kyi has criticised the lengthy handover process, calling the constitutional rules behind it “very silly”.

“This is quite incredible; nowhere else in the world is there such a gap between the end of the elections and the forming of the new administration and certainly it is something about which we should all be concerned,” she said before the election.

Meanwhile, Michael Vatikiotis wrote in the Asian Review: “Further afield in China, the reaction to the election results has been welcoming in public, but privately there must be concerns about the future. Chinese companies investing in Myanmar will have to compete with a bigger array of Western corporate interests when the last sanctions on foreign investment are swept away. Suu Kyi’s visit to China earlier this year did not see the flowering of a close relationship with Chinese leaders, Chinese sources say. Fighting along the border with local Chinese-backed warlords has cost the lives of almost 1,000 Myanmar soldiers.”

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