More than 20 years of direct military rule came to an end last week when U Thein Sein was sworn in as president shortly after Senior General Than Shwe signed a decree dissolving the State Peace and Development Council (SPDC).
The SPDC, in power since 1988, released four decrees on March 30 concerning the transfer of power to new governments at the national, regional and sub-regional levels.
Speaker of the Pyidaungsu Hluttaw U Khin Aung Myint read out the announcements in parliament on the final day of the first Pyidaungsu Hluttaw session. Those in attendance included the new Commander-in-Chief of the Defence Services General Min Aung Hlaing and Deputy Commander-in-Chief Lieutenant General Soe Win.
President U Thein Sein and vice presidents Thiha Thura U Tin Aung Myint Oo and Sai Mauk Kham were sworn in, followed by members of the national government, including ministers and deputy ministers.
“The announcement also said which ministers would get which portfolios in the new government,” Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) Pyithu Hluttaw representative U Ko Gyi told The Myanmar Times on March 30. “While the list of deputy ministers was not announced in the Pyidaungsu Hluttaw, we heard they had been informed through notification letters that they had been appointed.”
In his maiden address to the Pyidaungsu Hluttaw on March 30, President U Thein Sein paid tribute to the “sound foundations” laid by the outgoing SPDC.
He said the army had saved the country from “deteriorating conditions” in 1988, after the Burma Socialist Program Party disintegrated following mass protests.
“The Tatmadaw, with a strong sense of duty and loyalty, saved the country several times whenever it was close to collapse and loss of independence and sovereignty. Also in 1988, the Tatmadaw government saved the country from deteriorating conditions in various sectors and reconstructed the country,” he said.
“Now, the people have elected us and given mandate to continue building a stable, peaceful and developed nation, making good use of the foundations.”
Following U Thein Sein’s speech, speaker U Khin Aung Myint announced the conclusion of the first regular session of the Pyidaungsu Hluttaw, which convened on January 31.
The state-run New Light of Myanmar quoted him as saying the hluttaw session was a “first experiences for all” representatives.
“It is believed that later [representatives] will have more and more experience and be able to serve the better interests of the people,” he said.
Under the 2008 constitution, the Pyidaungsu Hluttaw must be convened at least once every 12 months. U Khin Aung Myint did not specify when the next session would be called, saying only that the combined upper and lower houses would “be summoned again when occasion arises to discuss the subjects necessary to be discussed”, including bills that the Pyithu Hluttaw or Amyotha Hluttaw cannot reach agreement on.