Home World Asia News Htin Kyaw Becomes Myanmar’s First Civilian President in More Than 50 Years

Htin Kyaw Becomes Myanmar’s First Civilian President in More Than 50 Years

Htin Kyaw has become Myanmar’s first civilian president after more than 50 years of military rule.

The parliament has elected Htin Kyaw, a close ally of Aung San Suu Kyi, after her National League for Democracy (NLD) party swept to victory in historic elections in November.

Htin Kyaw said his appointment was “Aung San Suu Kyi’s victory”.

Aung San Suu Kyi is barred from the post by the constitution, but has said she will lead the country anyway.

Htin Kyaw won with 360 of the 652 votes cast in the two houses of parliament, with lawmakers erupting into applause when the result was announced.

“Victory! This is sister Aung San Suu Kyi’s victory. Thank you,” Htin Kyaw said after winning.

In second place was Myint Swe, who was nominated by the military and received 213 votes.

Photo AP

Photo AP

A close ally of former junta leader Than Shwe, Myint Swe is seen as a hardliner.

Myint Swe was followed by Htin Kyaw’s running mate and ethnic Chin candidate Henry Van Thio, who got 79 votes.

They will serve as first vice-president and second vice-president respectively.

Myanmar’s president is chosen from candidates put forward by each of the two houses of parliament, in addition to a third nominee from the military.

Aung San Suu Kyi’ NLD has a huge majority in both houses of parliament, despite the military occupying 25% of seats, so the candidate it backed was all but guaranteed to win.

However, correspondents warn of increasing confrontation in parliament in the future as lawmakers push against an army determined to hold onto the powers it has under the constitution.

The army still controls key security ministries and also has the power to veto any changes to the constitution as that would require more than 75% of parliamentary votes.

Correspondents say that Htin Kyaw’s election is widely supported among the Burmese people, as he has a solid reputation and is known to be trusted by Aung San Suu Kyi.

Despite Aung San Suu Kyi’s popularity and prominence in Myanmar – also known as Burma – she could not take the presidency herself.

A clause in the constitution, widely seen as being tailored against Aung San Suu Kyi, says anyone whose children have another nationality cannot become president. Her children hold British passports.

Despite weeks of negotiation prior to the vote, the NLD were unable to persuade the military of Myanmar to remove or suspend the clause to allow Aung San Suu Kyi to take office.

Aung San Suu Kyi has previously said that she would be “above the president” anyway, ruling through a proxy.

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