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04 March 2024

Curtain falls on Myanmar's army-led parliament


Myanmar's pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi applauded the military-stacked parliament on its final day in office Friday, as one-time enemies welcomed a power transition that will loosen the army's 50-year grip on power.

After a de-mob happy last session for sitting MPs, Suu Kyi congratulated her political opponents on "opening the road" for her party, which won a November election in a landslide.

Friday called time on a five-year term of a parliament that has fundamentally changed Myanmar's political landscape, delivered a shot in the arm to the economy and greater freedoms to society.

"I believe we can all co-operate for our country and people, whether it is outside or inside the parliament," said Suu Kyi, who was held captive for more than 15 years by the army.

Her address to lawmakers from across the political spectrum came at a party at the Naypyidaw parliament that included karaoke for normally po-faced army figures.

Her National League for Democracy (NLD) lawmakers will take their seats for the first time on Monday.

The back-slapping mood was in stark contrast to the acrimony and repression that characterised the junta years.

For decades Myanmar was seen as a basket-case run by paranoid generals who sunk the economy, crushed dissent and cut the Southeast Asian nation off from the rest of the world.

But reforms since 2011 steered by President Thein Sein have overhauled the country and culminated in the NLD election victory.

Suu Kyi is acutely aware of the deep challenges ahead to rebuild a country worn down by war, poverty and still under the influence of a powerful military.