Myanmar Elects 1st Civilian President In Decades

Photo: Anadolu Agency
Photo: Anadolu Agency

Yangon,  6 Jumadil Akhir 1437/15 March 2016 (MINA) – Myanmar’s parliament has elected its first civilian president in more than a half-century, four months after democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy (NLD) won the national election in a landslide.

Htin Kyaw – a non-elected legislator and Suu Kyi’s longtime aide — will take power April 1, after more than 300 of the 652 lawmakers at the union parliament in political capital Nay Pyi Taw voted in his favor, Anadolu Agency quoted by Mi’raj Islamic News Agency (MINA) as reporting.

Talking to reporters after today’s vote, the first-ever opposition member to be  elected head of state said “This is a victory of the people.”

Military nominee Myint Swe and the NLD’s secondary nominee Henry Van Thio were elected as vice-president one, and vice president two respectively.

On Friday, 69-year-old academic Htin Kyaw — the executive of a non-profit charity organization — won a lower house vote by more than 85 percent to qualify for today’s round of voting, while Henry Van Thio, an ethnic Chin Christian NLD MP, won that of the upper house.

Military-appointed MPs — who hold 25 percent of seats in parliament — chose Myint Swe, an ex-general widely believed to be a trusted confidant of retired military dictator Than Shwe who ruled the country under an authoritarian system for decades.

Myint Swe, current chief minister of the Yangon region, is believed to have been behind a crackdown in 2007 on peaceful protestors, including Buddhist monks, in commercial capital Yangon.

Htin Kyaw takes over from ex-general Thein Sein, whose five-year term ends on March 30. In doing so, he will become the country’s first head of government with no military background for more than 50 years.

Suu Kyi was banned from taking the top post by article 59 (f) of the military-drafted constitution.

Many suspect the clause was aimed solely at the Nobel Peace laureate, as it bars anyone with foreign relatives — Suu Kyi’s late husband was British, as are her two sons — from becoming president.

Suu Kyi, however, has said she will rule the country from “above the president”. (T/P010/R03)

Mi’raj Islamic News Agency (MINA)