Aung San Suu Kyi's administration has freed scores of political prisoners and shown determination to repeal oppressive laws
Myanmar military MPs on Friday said a plan to bolster Aung San Suu Kyi's power with a special advisory role was unconstitutional, as the new civilian government tussled with the army just days after taking office.
The Southeast Asian nation was dominated by the military for more than half a century until Wednesday when Suu Kyi and her pro-democracy party took power.
The Nobel laureate, whose party secured a landslide election win in November, has vowed to rule the country despite a constitutional block on her becoming president.
In a surprise early act of parliamentary business by the new government, Suu Kyi's party proposed a bill to grant her a special "state counsellor" position.
If passed it would give the 70-year-old a steering role over parliament, buttressed by the four ministerial posts she already holds in the new cabinet.
But in a sign of early turbulence between her party and the still hugely influential army, military MPs challenged the move in an upper house debate Friday that saw the bill pass its first legislative hurdle.
Colonel Myint Swe raised fears the plan would place the "president and the advisor at the same level".
"This is in opposition to the constitution. So I would like to suggest the bill be amended according to the constitution," he told lawmakers.
Another army lawmaker, Colonel Hla Win Aung, also decried the naming of Suu Kyi in the bill and warned it could "destroy" the balance of power between government branches.
The army is reserved a quarter of all parliamentary seats by a junta-era charter.
The bill passed the upper house vote but still needs approval from the lower house and combined parliament, which are similarly dominated by Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy (NLD).
NLD MP Zaw Min, chairman of the upper house bill committee, dismissed concerns that the proposal was unconstitutional, saying that judgement lies with the newly formed Constitutional Tribunal.
"It is too early to say that the bill is in opposition to the constitution," he said, without elaborating on whether it would be referred to the tribunal.
- Hurdles ahead -
Suu Kyi is the figurehead of a near 30-year struggle to end military domination that saw her locked under house arrest for years.
She is barred from the presidency by a clause in the junta-drafted charter disqualifying those with foreign close relatives. Her two sons are British, as was her late husband.
The veteran campaigner has pledged to rule through her longtime friend Htin Kyaw, who was sworn in as president Wednesday.
She is also taking on a huge workload in his cabinet, running the foreign affairs, education, energy and president's office ministries.
The new bill does not spell out specific powers for the proposed position, but it would enable Suu Kyi to maintain sway over the legislature she had to step down from to become a minister.
It also gives her a budget and authority to conduct any meetings deemed necessary.
Dozens of NLD supporters celebrated the historic week at a street fair in downtown Yangon Friday, where they served up traditional foods and sang as loudspeakers played old campaign songs.
"This is just a welcoming party to our president elected from the people. Now Myanmar has the chance to have a brighter future through the guidance of Mother Suu," said Myo Lwin Htay, who helped organise the event through a local NLD office.
The novice government faces a tough road ahead as it strives to tackle mammoth challenges in a nation scarred by decades of repressive and economically destructive army rule.
Analysts say it will need support from the military that retains huge political influence, including control of three key ministries.