Dawn Of Democracy In Myanmar: First Freely Elected Parliament Takes Oath

The first freely elected parliament in Myanmar after 50 years of military rule held its opening session in Nay Pyi Taw. Hundreds of new MPs, from the National League for Democracy (NLD) and other smaller parties, were sworn in on February 1.

The NLD, led by Nobel-laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, won 80% of contested seats in November 2015's historic election.

A quarter of all seats are reserved for the military, which also retains control of key ministries.

Myanmar still faces a long road to full democracy. The military retains 25% of seats in parliament, giving it a veto over constitutional changes. It also still controls key sectors of the economy and ministries such as defense, interior and border affairs. In addition, the army can take over the government under emergency legislation.

Parliament will pick a new president over the next few weeks after current President Thein Sein’s term ends in March. Suu Kyi is barred from the post because her children are foreign nationals.

Suu Kyi has been quoted as saying that she will serve “above” the president, but it's not clear how much influence she will be actually able to wield with the military generals still in place.

Myanmar's National League for Democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi's identification is seen among new lawmakers before  the opening of the new parliament in Naypyitaw February 1, 2016. After decades of struggle, hundreds of lawmakers from Aung San Suu Kyi's camp will form Myanmar's ruling party on Monday, with enough seats in parliament to choose the first democratically elected government since the military took power in 1962.  REUTERS/Soe Zeya Tun - RTX24UTN Myanmar's National League for Democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi's identification is seen among new lawmakers before the opening of the new parliament in Naypyitaw February 1, 2016. REUTERS/Soe Zeya Tun - RTX24UTN

Myanmar Parliament Seating Plan

New National League for Democracy lawmakers arrive for the opening of the new parliament in Naypyitaw February 1, 2016. After decades of struggle, hundreds of lawmakers from Aung San Suu Kyi's camp will form Myanmar's ruling party on Monday, with enough seats in parliament to choose the first democratically elected government since the military took power in 1962.  REUTERS/Soe Zeya Tun - RTX24UTH After decades of struggle, hundreds of lawmakers from Aung San Suu Kyi's NLD formed Myanmar's ruling party on Monday, with enough seats in parliament to choose the first democratically elected government since the military took power in 1962. REUTERS/Soe Zeya Tun - RTX24UTH

New National League for Democracy lawmakers arrive for the opening of the new parliament in Naypyitaw February 1, 2016. After decades of struggle, hundreds of lawmakers from Aung San Suu Kyi's camp will form Myanmar's ruling party on Monday, with enough seats in parliament to choose the first democratically elected government since the military took power in 1962.  REUTERS/Soe Zeya Tun - RTX24UTO New National League for Democracy lawmakers pick up their identification and party cards before the opening of the new parliament in Naypyitaw February 1, 2016. REUTERS/Soe Zeya Tun - RTX24UTO

New National League for Democracy lawmakers arrive for the opening of the new parliament in Naypyitaw February 1, 2016. After decades of struggle, hundreds of lawmakers from Aung San Suu Kyi's camp will form Myanmar's ruling party on Monday, with enough seats in parliament to choose the first democratically elected government since the military took power in 1962.  REUTERS/Soe Zeya Tun - RTX24UTY New National League for Democracy lawmakers dressed in the traditional attire of a jacket, longyi and a turban with tassels arrive for the opening of the new parliament in Naypyitaw February 1, 2016. REUTERS/Soe Zeya Tun - RTX24UTY

New National League for Democracy lawmaker speaks with a journalist as she arrives for the opening of the new parliament in Naypyitaw February 1, 2016. After decades of struggle, hundreds of lawmakers from Aung San Suu Kyi's camp will form Myanmar's ruling party on Monday, with enough seats in parliament to choose the first democratically elected government since the military took power in 1962.  REUTERS/Soe Zeya Tun - RTX24UUJ New National League for Democracy lawmaker speaks with a journalist as she arrives for the opening of the new parliament in Naypyitaw February 1, 2016. REUTERS/Soe Zeya Tun - RTX24UUJ

Ye Htut, Minister of Ministry of Information talks during Reuters interview in his office at Naypyitaw, Myanmar February 1, 2016. REUTERS/Soe Zeya Tun  - RTX24X4J Ye Htut, Minister of Ministry of Information talks during Reuters interview in his office at Naypyitaw, Myanmar February 1, 2016. REUTERS/Soe Zeya Tun - RTX24X4J

Myanmar's National League for Democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi (C) arrives to the opening of the new parliament in Naypyitaw February 1, 2016. After decades of struggle, hundreds of lawmakers from Aung San Suu Kyi's camp will form Myanmar's ruling party on Monday, with enough seats in parliament to choose the first democratically elected government since the military took power in 1962.   REUTERS/Soe Zeya Tun - RTX24UVQ Myanmar's National League for Democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi with lawmakers at the Parliament building in Naypyitaw February 1, 2016. REUTERS/Soe Zeya Tun - RTX24UVQ

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