Myanmar parliament session opens without Suu Kyi

Myanmar's parliament convened without Aung San Suu Kyi and newly-elected members of her party on Monday, according to an AFP photographer, amid a dispute over the swearing-in oath.

Suu Kyi has vowed not to swear to protect a constitution created by the former junta, in the first sign of tension with the government since a landmark by-election this month saw the democracy icon win a parliamentary seat.

A session of the lower house, which was supposed to see Suu Kyi make her debut as a politician, began without the former political prisoner and 36 other members of her party.

The National League for Democracy (NLD) is the main opposition force after securing 43 of the 44 seats it contested in the by-elections, but does not threaten the majority held by the military and the army-backed ruling party.

It has has appealed to reformist President Thein Sein directly over the stalemate, asking that the wording of the oath be changed from "safeguard" to "respect" the constitution.

But Thein Sein, a former general who has surprised observers with a series of dramatic changes since coming to power last year, rejected the suggestion that he would alter Myanmar's parliamentary oath to accommodate Suu Kyi.

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