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myanmar president

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.

Aung San Suu Kyi’s party, the National League for Democracy, has won Myanmar’s general election, officials say.

With more than 80% of contested seats now declared, Aung San Suu Kyi’s party has more than the two-thirds it needs to choose the president, ending decades of military-backed rule.

A quarter of seats are automatically held by the military, meaning it remains hugely influential.

Under the constitution Aung San Suu Kyi cannot become president herself.

Despite this, the election was seen as the first openly contested poll in Myanmar – also known as Burma – in 25 years.Aung San Suu Kyi's Party Wins Historic Majority

By early Friday, the NLD needed two more votes to reach the threshold required for a majority.

Then at midday, the electoral commission said the party had taken 348 of the 664 seats in the two houses of parliament. This represents a two-thirds majority of the contested seats.

Votes are being counted and the final tally is not expected for several days.

The process of choosing Myanmar’s new president will begin in January, when parliament reconvenes.

Current President Thein Sein and the head of the military had already said they would respect the outcome and work with the new government.

They and the NLD are expected to being talks next week on the way forward.

About 30 million people were eligible to vote in the election – turnout was estimated at about 80%.

It was widely seen as a fair vote though there were reports of irregularities, and hundreds of thousands of people – including the Muslim Rohingya minority, who are not recognized as citizens – were denied voting rights.

The ruling military-backed Union Solidarity Development Party (USDP) – which won the last, widely criticized election five years ago – has so far gained about 5% of seats contested.