Burma's new parliament to convene on 31 January

Poster showing candidates from a junta-linked party in Rangoon on 31 Oct 2010
Image caption Burma held its first election in 20 years last November

Burma's new parliament is to meet for the first time on 31 January, three months after the military-ruled nation's first elections in 20 years.

State television said the two-chamber parliament would convene in the capital, Nay Pyi Taw, citing an order from junta leader Gen Than Shwe.

The main junta-linked party said it won almost 80% of available seats. A quarter were reserved for the military.

Western nations said that the polls, on 7 November, were neither free nor fair.

Final election results have not yet been released.

The official first sitting will mark the implementation of the new constitution and see the transfer of power from the military government to a parliament and president.

Representatives of military-linked parties - many of them former officers who stood down to stand in the polls - are expected the dominate the chambers.

But there will also be a small number of lawmakers representing Burma's ethnic parties and its pro-democracy opposition.

Under the new constitution, parliament will elect a president. It is not yet clear whether Than Shwe is eyeing this role.

But the BBC's Asia correspondent Alastair Leithead says with many former military leaders now in parliament and Gen Than Shwe still firmly in control, any real change seems unlikely.

The party that won Burma's last elections, in 1990, is not represented in parliament.

The National League for Democracy, led by Aung San Suu Kyi, boycotted the polls because of laws it said favoured the junta's allies and sidelined key opposition leaders.

Aung San Suu Kyi was released from house arrest six days after the polls.

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