Newspaper article International New York Times

Myanmar Lawmakers Name a Civilian as President

Newspaper article International New York Times

Myanmar Lawmakers Name a Civilian as President

Article excerpt

U Htin Kyaw, a confidant of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, was considered almost certain to take the presidency after his nomination last week by her party.

Myanmar's Parliament elected a confidant of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi as president on Tuesday, ending decades of leadership by the military and its allies.

U Htin Kyaw, 69, won with more than half the votes. He was considered almost certain to take the presidency after his nomination last week by Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi's party, the National League for Democracy, which won majorities in both houses of Parliament in elections in the fall.

"This is a victory of the people. This is sister Daw Aung San Suu Kyi's victory. Thank you all with loving kindness," Mr. Htin Kyaw told reporters as he left Parliament after the vote, which installed him as Myanmar's ninth president.

Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi is barred from the presidency by a clause in the military-drafted Constitution that forbids people with foreign relatives from holding the office. Her two sons are British, as was her husband, who died in 1999.

But she has said that she would be "above" the president, a sign of her power as the leader of pro-democratic forces in Myanmar.

"I wish for the people to be happy," she told her party's lawmakers on Monday. "This is just a simple goal."

Though the military has eased its control of the government, it still holds many levers of power. One quarter of the seats in both houses of Parliament are reserved for the military, preventing any constitutional amendments without its approval. The military also has direct control of the key ministries of defense, home affairs and border affairs.

The legislature chooses Myanmar's president from candidates put forward by the military and each house of Parliament. In addition to Mr. Htin Kyaw, the candidates included U Henry Van Thio, 58, an ethnic Chin member of Parliament who was also nominated by the National League for Democracy, and U Myint Swe, 64, a former general who was nominated by the military delegation. …

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