Security `tight` ahead of Myanmar parliament opening

Myanmar is "very concerned" about its fledgling parliament, ramping up security around the building as part of preparations for a grand opening next week.

Yangon: Myanmar is "very concerned" about
its fledgling parliament, ramping up security around the
building as part of preparations for a grand opening next
week, an official said on Thursday.

Cameras, bags and explosives are banned and uninvited
visitors risk prison under rules spelled out to lawmakers,
while the Myanmar official said even senior military officers
will not be able to enter without special clearance.

"The security inside and outside of the new
parliament compound in (the capital) Naypyidaw is very tight
as the authorities are very much concerned for it," the source
told a news agency on condition of anonymity.

"No candidate will be allowed to take their mobile
or any electronic devices. Even senior officers who are not
responsible for parliament security cannot go inside," he
said.

The official said even security patrols will not be
able to use walkie talkies in the area.

Lawmakers, who won seats in the country`s
controversial first election in 20 years in November, have
begun to converge on the capital from across the country for
the January 31 opening of parliament.

The junta-backed Union Solidarity and Development
Party (USDP) claimed an overwhelming majority in the polls,
winning 882 out of 1,154 seats amid allegations of fraud and
intimidation, plus the exclusion of democracy icon Aung San
Suu Kyi.

In a sign of nervousness over potential disruption,
lawmakers were provided with a list of items barred from the
building that includes "explosive devices".

The regime, which is yet to say whether any session
will be open to reporters, also appears to be trying to shroud
the business of the parliament in secrecy, banning audio and
video recording devices, computers and mobile phones.

Anyone who leaks pictures or documents from the
parliament faces a maximum two years in jail, a 200,000 kyat
(240 dollar) fine or both, while entering without permission
could attract a one year prison sentence.

Myanmar`s junta has also increased security around
the 14 regional parliaments across the country.

A security team comprising soldiers, police and
traffic officers has been deployed around Yangon`s parliament
compound, where its regional assembly will also be convened
next week.

Police vehicles have also been more visible on the
city`s streets since last week, especially at night.

PTI

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