Myanmar to begin new parliament session ending military-only rule

National League for Democracy (NLD) leader Aung San Suu Kyi arrives at the last session of the congress at the parliament building in Naypyitaw in this January 28, 2016 file photoImage copyrightReuters

Image captionAung San Suu Kyi is constitutionally barred from becoming president

Hundreds of MPs are gathering for a new session of Myanmar’s parliament, set to choose its first democratically elected government in more than 50 years.

It will be an assembly dominated by MPs from Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy (NLD), which won 80% of elected seats in November’s poll.

But a quarter of all seats are reserved for the military, which also retains key ministries under the constitution.

One of the new parliament’s first jobs will be to choose a new president.

Outgoing leader Thein Sein steps down at the end of March, but Ms Suu Kyi, who spent 15 years under house arrest, is constitutionally barred from standing because her sons are British not Burmese.

She has previously indicated, however, that she will seek to exert influence through the new leader.

At the scene: Jonah Fisher, BBC News, Nay Pyi Taw

For most of the last 20 years Aung San Suu Kyi’s party the National League for Democracy has been treated as the enemy here – its activities suppressed and its leaders jailed.

Now hundreds of them are being sworn in as MPs. Even when the 25% of army-appointed representatives are included the NLD still have a majority.

The identity of the country’s next President is still a closely guarded secret.

For it to be Ms Suu Kyi there would have to be an incredible last minute deal and constitutional change. Most likely it will be one of her most trusted confidantes possibly her doctor.

The transition from military-only rule will go on until the NLD government officially starts its term in April. The army overthrew the last democratically-elected parliament in 1962.

On Monday, among the order of business for the new parliament, will be choosing a chairman, who will then elect speakers of the two houses of parliament.

Last week Ms Suu Kyi confirmed her party will choose Win Myint as speaker of the lower house and Win Khaing Than, as the upper house speaker.