01/31/2011, 00.00
MYANMAR

Naypyidaw, the first sitting of Burma’s “sham” Parliament

In the midst of junta propaganda and the indifference of the population, the two Houses begin their first working session today in the capital. First priorities, the election of new President of Myanmar. The dictatorship has imposed a strict censorship, denying access to journalists. NLD and Aung San Suu Kyi left on the sidelines.

Yangon (AsiaNews / Agencies) - The first sitting of Parliament in Naypyidaw Myanmar took place today amid tight security and the general indifference of the population. People consider the new parliament shambolic, that will not bring about any change in the country: power remains firmly in the hands of the military, who have imposed a news blackout on the start of the working sessions of the two legislative assemblies ("Hluttaws). Among the first tasks, the election of the new (and first) President.

Journalists were barred from attending the first session of Parliament, the result of November 7 “sham” elections. Since 1962 Myanmar a military dictatorship has been in power that in the last two decades has increased its hold on power. 25% of the seats are reserved for members of the army and the remaining 75% were won by representatives of the party close to them.

A dozen journalists have reached the capital Naypyidaw, but despite the announcement last week, were not given permission to film or report. Networks of barbed wire surround the Parliament buildings; deputies have also been barred from carrying mobile phones and cameras into the chambers.

The military junta is celebrating the day as "a new dawn of democracy." Critics speak instead of a window dressing that does not change the substance: the country which remains in the hands of the military leadership, led by General Than Shwe. The population is uninterested in parliamentary affairs, because they are engaged in daily survival.

Representatives of the main opposition party, the National League for Democracy (NLD) and the leader of the democratic struggle in Burma, Aung San Suu Kyi, are excluded from the "Hluttaws" because they refused to run in the November 7 poll.

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