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article imageMyanmar names first civilian president in nearly 50 years

By Leo Reyes     Feb 4, 2011 in Politics
Myanmar, formerly known as Burma and a member of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) has named its first president in nearly 50 years.
Former Prime Minister Thein Sein, who is the leader of the newly formed political party which participated in the general election late last year, has been named President by the newly constituted parliament and will soon form and appoint members of his cabinet.
The parliament also named Tin Aung Myint Oo and Sai Mauk Kham as vice-presidents. Thein Sein and his vice-presidents are members of the the USDP party which won majority seats in parliament in last year's elections.
Aung San Suu Kyi, the leader of the National League for Democracy (NLD) who won in the 1990 elections but never allowed to take power, has not participated in the elections.
Suu Kyi's party disbanded ahead of the November elections because the newly constituted election laws would effectively expel its leaders.
A USDP representative told the Democratic Voice of Burma that as a prime minister, Thein Sein "has a lot of experience and ideas, and is already familiar with the international community.", BBC News reports.
The appointment of a president is the final step in Burma's so-called "road map to democracy" - moving the country from military to civilian rule.
Last year's election was widely criticized by some members of the ASEAN and a number of western nations as far from credible as the election laws were adapted to ensure the election of candidates of the military regime. Around a quarter of the seats in parliament are reserved for the military.
USDP lawmakers bagged 388 of the national parliament's 493 elected seats, leaving little room for dissenting voices.
The opposition National Democratic Force (NDF), which split from Suu Kyi's party in order to contest the election, has a total of 12 seats in the legislature's two chambers, and the Democratic Party (Myanmar) has none.
Myanmar convened its first parliament in more than two decades on Monday in the capital, Naypyidaw.
The Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) which Thein Sein heads won the 2010 general elections and now serves as the dominant party in the parliament.
More about Myanmar, Thein Sein, Election, Aung san suu kyi, Democracy
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