Home / News / World /  Suu Kyi party picks Htin Kyaw as key nominee for Myanmar president

Bangkok: Aung San Suu Kyi’s party avoided a potential showdown with the military by opting against nominating her to become Myanmar’s next president. Instead, one her close allies and a member of the Chin ethnic group were put forward for the post.

The next president will on paper become the head of Myanmar’s first government to come from democratic elections since a military takeover in 1962. In reality, they will probably defer to Suu Kyi, who has said she would be “above the president" and run the government despite a constitutional ban on her holding the nation’s highest office.

Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy party’s scored a resounding win in November’s election and dominates both houses of parliament, giving it the upper hand in nominating presidential candidates. She had met army chief Min Aung Hlaing several times to discuss the power transfer, though did not secure a deal that would allow her to become president.

The lower house of parliament nominated NLD member Htin Kyaw and the upper house chose an ethnic Chin NLD lawmaker. Military appointees had yet to announce their choice. The combined houses will hold a vote in the coming days with the winner becoming president and the other two serving as vice presidents.

Htin Kyaw, 69, is senior member of the NLD and a director at the Daw Khin Kyi Foundation, a charitable organization named after Suu Kyi’s mother. He went to the same secondary school as Suu Kyi and graduated from the Yangon Institute of Economics in 1962. He later studied at Oxford.

Suu Kyi, 70, and her party are longtime opponents of the generals who ruled the country until 2011, when they handed power to their political arm. Many senior NLD leaders, including Suu Kyi, were imprisoned under the junta and have tread cautiously since they beat the military-backed party by a nearly 10-1 margin in November.

The last time the NLD won a national election, in 1990, the result was ignored by the military. This time it’s clear the NLD will be allowed to lead the government, in part because the army will retain broad powers under a constitution it drafted. In addition to barring Suu Kyi from the presidency, the army is guaranteed 25% of seats in parliament, effective veto power over charter changes and control of key ministries.

“This is the first step to realizing the expectations and desires of the people who overwhelmingly supported the National League for Democracy in the elections," Suu Kyi said Thursday in a post on Facebook. “We previously couldn’t fulfill the people’s will. We want all the people to support us with wisdom to achieve our goals. To fulfill the people’s desire is the NLD’s determination and we will try as much as we can."

The NLD had refused to say who would be president until Thursday. The party has also been vague about its plans once the handover from President Thein Sein’s government is completed on 1 April . While its election manifesto covered everything from the economy to education to ethnic relations, the document included few concrete details. Bloomberg

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