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    Jan 20, 2016

    Myanmar army names its picks for parliament seats


    MYANMAR'S army has nominated its officers for a quarter of the seats in the parliament reserved for the military according to the Constitution, state media said yesterday, as the country moves towards a remarkably peaceful transfer of power to the party of democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi.

    Her National League for Democracy (NLD) party swept the historic Nov 8 election but Myanmar's military, which ruled the country for 49 years before giving way to semi-civilian government in 2011, remains a powerful political force, Reuters reported.

    A statement carried in the Global New Light of Myanmar daily said the election commission had confirmed the 166 military lawmakers nominated by army chief Min Aung Hlaing for the 664-member bicameral parliament.

    Another 220 will serve in 14 state and regional assemblies.

    Their military ranks range from captain to major-general, according to the published list.

    Major-General Tauk Tun is the most senior military lawmaker selected for the lower house and Major-General Than Soe for the upper house.

    Myanmar's second-in-command, deputy commander-in-chief Soe Win, reiterated on Monday the army's plan to keep its powerful position in politics when he met United States Deputy Secretary of State Antony Blinken in the capital of Naypyidaw.

    "Vice Senior General Soe Win explained... the plan to cooperate with the next government and the leading role of the military in national politics," the state-owned Myanmar language daily Kyemon reported yesterday.

    The 25 per cent of seats in the parliament gives the military an effective veto over changes to the 2008 junta-drafted Constitution that bans Ms Suu Kyi from becoming the president because her late husband was British and her sons are not Myanmar citizens.

    Three key security ministries - defence, border affairs and home affairs - also remain under the control of the commander-in-chief.

    Ms Suu Kyi has stated publicly that she will nevertheless position herself as "above the president", who will likely come from the NLD with its domination of the parliament.

    The NLD-led government will take power in March after parliament elects the president next month to take over from incumbent Thein Sein, a former general seen to be a proxy of the military.

    The Irrawaddy newspaper noted that Brigadier-General Thein Naing, son-in-law of former junta leader Than Shwe who stepped down in 2011, is assigned a seat in the Yangon Division legislature.

    Political analyst Yan Myo Thein said observers should keep tabs on Thein Naing as his father-in-law is still a force to reckon with.