Yesterday, Myanmar’s new civilian government was sworn into office at the Hluttaw (national parliament) in Naypyitaw.
The Hluttaw was packed to the brim as a new president, two vice-presidents and 18 minsters gave their oath. Watching on were members of parliament–both civilian and military–the diplomatic community, close allies of the National League for Democracy, and domestic and foreign media.
While the audience stood up as Daw Aung San Suu Kyi walked in, unsurprisingly, the Commander-in-Chief of Defence Services Senior General Min Aung Hlaing remained seated.
Within 15 minutes, Myanmar’s first civilian president, since the ruthless U Ne Win seized power in 1962, U Htin Kyaw gave his oath, and delivered his inaugural address:
His excellency the Speaker, members of parliament, our guests of honour and our citizens; the Pyidaungsu Hluttaw has elected me as president so I would like to say I am very glad and proud because this is an important, historic event. Having been elected as president, I am supposed to be accountable to the Pyidaungsu Hluttaw. This second parliament and incoming government which has arisen from the result of the 2015 election has been formed in accordance with the policies of National League for Democracy, led by Daw Aung San Suu Kyi. The new government will implement the following policies: national reconciliation, internal peace, pursuing a constitution toward a federal union, and improving the living standards of the majority of the people.
His excellency the Speaker, members of parliament, our guests of honour and our citizens; I have something important to say on this occasion. It is that I have a responsibility to always keep my solemn oath that I have made earlier, and to pursue a constitution in accordance with democratic norms that will be suitable for our country. I believe that I will have to be patient in implementing this political aim, which the people have wished to see for years.
I would like to conclude my speech with a promise: that the new government will always try to fulfil the people’s hopes and desires, and that all of our citizens may live a calm and peaceful life and may achieve your goals without difficulties.
His speech was followed by an oath given by the 18 new cabinet ministers. Suu Kyi, who takes four ministerial posts – foreign affairs; the president’s office; education; and energy and electric power – stood immediately to the left of the cabinet’s three generals, who take on the ministerial positions for defence, home affairs, and border affairs, and who are independent from the oversight of the civilian NLD government.
While the NLD and armed forces will bump into each other in the next five-year term, yesterday will be marked as an unforgettable day in Myanmar’s political history.
Olivia Cable is at the ANU Coral Bell School of Asia Pacific Affairs. Her research focuses on politics and society in Naypyitaw. Olivia was live-tweeting from inside the Hluttaw yesterday: @ojcable.