Myanmar parliament elects Htin Kyaw as first civilian president
Naypyidaw: Myanmar’s parliament has elected Htin Kyaw
as the country’s first non-military president since the army took power in a
A close adviser and loyal friend to Aung San Suu Kyi,
the 69-year-old was nominated by the National League for Democracy party last
week and voted into the presidency by parliament on Tuesday.
Suu Kyi, who is barred from the presidency under an
army-drafted constitution, has made clear she will be “above the president” and
Htin Kyaw is expected to act as a proxy.
Reporters in the capital, Naypyidaw, were not allowed
to enter the parliament chamber when the voting took place.
A final tally giving Htin Kyaw 360 out of 652 votes
was met with applause. The two runners up, military nominee Myint Swe and
ethnic minority Chin candidate Henry Van Thio, will become first and second
Aung San Suu Kyi, herself a member of parliament, cast
her vote and later smiled broadly and clapped when the results were announced.
The parliament chamber was mostly a light orange, the
colour of the NLD majority who wore Burmese longyi skirts and traditional hats.
Also present were members of ethnic parties and military representatives.
Myanmar held elections in November, with the NLD
winning a majority in both houses of parliament.
Suu Kyi’s majority allowed her to effectively handpick
a successor to the current president, Thein Sein, a former general who
implemented reforms in 2011 moving the country away from dictatorship.
Although Thein Sein retired from the army to take
office, the 2010 elections that preceded his appointment were widely dismissed
as fraudulent and his political party is a military creation.
Htin Kyaw was elected under a complex system in which
the two chambers of parliament nominated two presidential candidates and
military MPs nominated a third, assuring the army continued influence.
The army also retains 25% of seats in parliament under
a 2008 constitution that it drafted, giving it an effective veto on
constitutional change. It also keeps key ministerial portfolios related to
Myint Swe, 64, the military’s nominee, is a hardline
conservative blacklisted by the US. He is a close ally to former junta leader
Than Shwe and has been criticised for dealing harshly with opposition activists
under military rule.
US State Department spokesman John Kirby said at a
briefing on Friday in Washington that he had no indication Myint Swe would be
taken off the sanctions list.