Home / Politics / Policy /  PM Modi congratulates Myanmar’s first civilian President in five decades

New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday congratulated U Htin Kyaw on being elected the first civilian president of Myanmar in over five decades.

“Congratulations and best wishes to U Htin Kyaw on being elected President of Myanmar! Will work together to strengthen India-Myanmar ties," Modi said in a post on Twitter.

The tweet came shortly after Htin Kyaw was named the next President, succeeding former military general Thein Sein, who became President in 2011 after Myanmar’s first general elections in decades.

Htin Kyaw is a close ally of Aung San Suu Kyi, whose National League for Democracy (NLD) party swept to victory in historic elections in November. Htin Kyaw won with 360 of the 652 votes cast in the two houses of Parliament.

In second place was Myint Swe, who was nominated by the military and received 213 votes, followed by another NLD candidate, Henry Van Thio, who got 79 votes.

They will serve as first vice-president and second vice-president, respectively.

Aung San Suu Kyi, the undisputed leader of Myanmar’s pro-democracy movement, could not become President because the nation’s Constitution bars anyone with a foreign spouse or foreign children from holding the office. Suu Kyi’s late husband was a Briton, as are her children.

India has been busy repairing its relations with Aung San Suu Kyi. After supporting her in the aftermath of the military takeover in the late 1980s, when India conferred the prestigious Jawarharlal Nehru Award for International Understanding on her in 1993, in the space of a couple of years New Delhi changed track on realizing that insurgent groups operating in the northeast were able to establish bases in Myanmar. India has a more than a 1,000-km border with Myanmar.

As part of its engagement with Myanmar, India has been investing in infrastructure projects, exploring oil and gas blocks and offering credit. Those ties continued even after President Thein Sein came to power after the 2011 elections, leading to what was seen by the international community as a nominally civilian government.

Currently, India’s total estimated investment in Myanmar is close to $720 million.

India has also provided lines of credit and grants worth $1.7 billion to Myanmar. One of India’s key concerns has been the presence of anti-India rebels in Myanmar, and armies of the two countries have worked closely to address the problem.

Last year, India and Myanmar launched a joint operation to hunt down Naga militants who had ambushed an Indian military convoy in Manipur killing 18 soldiers. This was not the first time such a joint operation had been carried out; previous instances include one in 2005.

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