Burma’s military junta has appointed 388 members of parliaments to fill the military share of the three chambers of parliament which will first assemble on January 31, junta’s media said today.

The junta has appointed 110 military officers for the people’s parliament (lower house), 56 for the national parliament (upper house), and 222 for regional-and-state parliaments, The New Light of Myanmar newspaper reported Friday.

All appointed MPs are military officers in commission, including one brigadier general, 19 colonels; the other 368 officers are majors and captains in ranks.

In this file photo taken on March 27,2010, Myanmar Senior Gen. Than Shwe reviews Myanmar soldiers during ceremonies, on the 65th Armed Forces Day in Naypitaw, Myanmar. Pic: AP.

Under the country’s new constitution, the military can appoint 25 per cent of all lawmakers in three chambers of parliament. It is enough for the military to veto any legislation and to control the picking of a new president and cabinet.

Meanwhile, the controversial Conscription Law, dated November 4, 2010, which is to be ratified in Burma, has been criticized by the National League for Democracy (NLD) on 19 January.  As said by the draft law, it will come into force on the day that the military regime endorses the law by an article in an official decree.

According to the NLD, a draft law is related to the whole population in the country and it should be approved through lower and upper parliaments. Releasing the draft law ahead of the approaching parliament assemblies looks like a dishonest tactic. And it also shows the military is above the parliament which is really a fake. The military authorities will misuse the rights of grassroots people under this law in the name of ‘the State’, NLD pointed out in its statement.

Although the 1959 Public Military Service Act said the state had the authority to order any person who is qualified to serve in the armed forces, the current junta’s draft law prescribes that all male and female adults between selected ages should be subjects to serve in the military, the NLD statement pointed out.

“If the law comes into life, the authorities will misuse the law as the corruption is prevalent. The law will open the door of evildoings for the authorities and it will put heavy burdens on the people who are under poverty line due to junta’s bad-governance”’, said NLD’s statement dated 19 January.

Burma or Myanmar, under absolute military rule since 1962, held its first general election in two decades on November 7 last year. Parliament is to hold its first session on January 31 to commence the procedure of choosing a new president.  The parliament meetings would likely take at least 14 days and people may only perceive who will be president around mid-February, said an observer.

Besides the 25 per cent ratio of appointed military parliamentarians, the pro-junta Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) took 77 per cent of the seats in three chambers of parliament by vote-rigging. There may be little amazement at who wins the presidential throne as the first parliamentary session which will be held under the junta’s tight control.

The 2008 constitution says that the president and two vice-presidents need not be elected members of parliament except acquaintance with military affairs. Many observers deem that Senior General Than Shwe, 77, boss of the junta since 1992 and commander-in-chief of the armed forces, is an expected candidate, while ex-Generals Maung Aye and Shwe Mann are likely to be the deputies under Than Shwe.

If Than Shwe decided to take the presidential office, he has to resign from his military position. The president will have the power to shape the new government. Most of the new cabinet members seem to be chosen primarily from the USDP MPs who also were once high-ranking military officers with the junta.

The over 1,000 representatives-elect and 388 appointed military representatives are preparing for the first parliament session on 31 January. All representatives have been cautiously instructed about the dos and don’ts in the parliamentary compound including which costume they have to wear, and which kinds of things they are not allowed to bring.

The Members of Parliament will not be allowed to carry mobile phones, recorders and laptop computers into the Parliament, as said by Dr. Myat Nyar Na Soe, a representative-elect from the National Democratic Force (NDF) party.

An invitation letter delivered to the representatives-elect calls on Members of Parliament to inform to the fortified office of the parliament in capital Naypyidaw by 27 January.

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