Myanmar nominates five for presidency



-- Myanmar's new parliament has nominated five lawmakers and will pick the country's new president from their ranks in the coming days. A notable absence on the list is Than Shwe, the highest-ranking figure in Myanmar's junta.

Analysts believe Than will remain the supreme military commander and therefore, essentially in charge of the country. Many think he may not have wanted to be considered for the position of president because the new constitution mandates that the president and ministers declare their assets.

Myanmar convened its first parliament in more than two decades on Monday in the capital, Naypyidaw. The parliamentarians will spend Wednesday narrowing the list of five down to three.

Then they will vote for a new president from among the three. The other two will assume the role of vice presidents.

The president will in turn pick his Cabinet.

The lawmakers came into office after elections were held in November for the first time in 20 years. The elections drew fire from critics who said the voting was aimed at creating a facade of democracy.

The regime refused to allow international monitors to oversee the race and would not allow international journalists to cover the voting from inside the country. Journalists who reported from inside Myanmar had to do so surreptitiously.

The military junta also recently overhauled Myanmar's constitution in a way that critics say was aimed at tightening the regime's grip.

The constitution now requires more than 100 military nominees in parliament. Myanmar, also known as Burma, has been under military rule since 1962.

Among those who boycotted the elections was opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy party, which described it as a sham.