After half a century of military-dominated rule, Myanmar’s celebrated leader Aung Sans Suu Kyi has led National League for Democracy (NLD) party into the country’s parliament on 1 February.
Suu Kyi has waited as many as 26 years for this particular moment, having won a parliamentary majority in 1990. The military had invalidated it then out of fear.
On 29 January, outgoing President Thein Sein had stated members of the former government would “cooperate fully with the new government to usher in peace and development to Myanmar,” according to a statement on his website.
In November last year, Suu Kyi led the NLD to another landslide. This time military-aligned government had accepted it.
Hundreds of NLD parliamentarians took their seats in the lower house on 1 February. The party won 80% of all positions during the general election in November, with the military reserving 25% of total seats.
Suu Kyi, flowers in hair, had used a side entrance to enter the parliament to avoid the horde of media at the entrance. The NLD MPs wore orange, overshadowing the military’s light green in the house.
She did not comment as she entered parliament. U Min Oo, an NLD MP from Bago constituency, said the day was special. “It’s the second time I have been elected, but this time it’s different.”
Despite leading the party that won the vote, Suu Kyi cannot be president. The country’s constitution is such—the military had apparently drafted it keeping her in mind—bars anyone with children who are citizens of another country from becoming president. Both of Suu Kyi’s adult sons are British citizens.
Suu Kyi said before the vote that if the NLD won she would be “above the president”. It is yet to be seen whom the NLD nominates for the post of president.
Meanwhile, party supporters hope that within the restrictions imposed, Suu Kyi’s NLD will still succeed in improving the lot of human rights in a country that has long stifled personal freedoms.