NAYPYITAW: Myanmar’s parliament elected a close friend and confidant of Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi as president on Tuesday, making Htin Kyaw the first head of state who does not hail from a military background since the 1960s.
Suu Kyi led her National League for Democracy (NLD) to a landslide election win in November, but a constitution drafted by the former junta bars her from the top office.
She has vowed to run the country anyway through a proxy president, and on Thursday the NLD nominated Htin Kyaw for the role. He runs a charity founded by Suu Kyi and has been a trusted member of her inner circle since the mid-1990s. He is not a lawmaker.
“Today’s result is because of the love of people for her. It is the victory of my sister Aung San Suu Kyi,” Htin Kyaw told Reuters after the vote.
The NLD’s sizeable majority ensured a comfortable win for Suu Kyi’s pick in a vote by both houses of parliament. Htin Kyaw received 360 of the 652 votes cast, the parliamentary official counting the votes said.
Suu Kyi, who had been the first member of parliament to vote, clapped and smiled after the result was announced.
“This is the big day for us,” Zar Ni Min, an NLD lower house MP, said after the vote. “This is what we have hoped for since a long time ago.”
The still-powerful military holds a quarter of the seats in parliament and has the right under the constitution to nominate one of the three candidates for president. Its candidate, retired general Myint Swe, received 213 votes, making him the first vice president.