Shwe Mann elected as speaker

The Burmese junta’s former third-in-command Shwe Mann has become chairman of the lower house of parliament, which today held its first session in more than 20 years.

He was elected towards the end of today’s sitting, which was attended by more than 1000 MPs who won seats in the 7 November 2010 elections.

Taking the top position in the upper house will be current culture minister, Khin Aung Myint. Both are recently retired members of the military-led government that has ruled Burma in various guises since 1962.

Vice-chairperson of the lower house, or People’s Parliament, will be Nanda Kyaw Swa, a member of the Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP), which won 80 percent of seats and is set to dominate parliament. Myat Nyein, director of the Attorney General’s office, will take this position in the upper house, or Nationalities Parliament. 

According to the 2008 constitution, the head of the Nationalities Parliament will reside of Union Parliament – the upper and lower house combined – for 30 months.

“The parliament announced that [three] vice-presidents will be appointed tomorrow,” said Khin Shwe, a USDP representative for the Nationalities Parliament, who was present at today’s session.

“One of them will be directly appointed by the Commander-in-Chief of the Defence Services and the two others will be appointed respectively from the People’s and the Nationalities Parliaments. One of the three vice-presidents will be elected by the Union Parliament as the president, and the other two will remain as vice-presidents.”

Security around the parliament building in Naypyidaw was tight, and eye-witnesses said that barbed wire blocked the main road leading to the building. Journalists were banned from entering, while MPs were given strict directions on dress code and banned items, which included cameras and mobile phones.

Khin Shwe added that each representative were given 300,000 kyat ($US300) to cover their food expenses for one month, while they in turn handed over an affidavit in order for them to become official MPs.

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