Myanmar Parliament Elects New President

  • Myanmar Parliament Elects New President

Myanmar Parliament Elects New President

Myanmar's parliament on Wednesday elected a staunch ally of Aung San Suu Kyi as the country's new president, allowing her to maintain a tight grip on top-level decision-making.

"Warmest congratulations and good wishes to His Excellency U Win Myint on his election as President of the Republic of the Union of Myanmar".

Myanmar's military ruled the country for a half-century during which it was accused of widespread abuses before partially handing power to a civilian government in 2016.

Activists have been frustrated at his reluctance to abolish a controversial online defamation law that has seen dozens of people face charges for Facebook posts critical of the government or military.

Win Myint collected 403 of the 636 votes cast by elected civilian members and appointed military members of both houses of parliament. His two opponents, Henry Van Thio and Myint Swe, received 18 and 211 votes respectively.

"I believe there will be frictions" between Win Myint and Myanmar's military, said a government source involved in peace negotiations with the country's armed ethnic groups. Htin Kyaw was seen largely as a puppet figure, since he deferred on all major political decisions to Suu Kyi, who, because her two sons are British citizens, can not herself serve as president under Myanmar's military-drafted constitution.

Win Myint has been described as strong-willed in his role as speaker and an assertive politician, leading observers to predict he may take on a fuller role as president, rather than the ceremonial one performed by Htin Kyaw. To get around this, she took the specially created post of State Counsellor, which is supported by its own ministry. A clause in the 2008 military-drafted constitution bars anyone with a foreign spouse or child from holding the job.

Aung, because she has two half-British children, can not legally serve as president of Myanmar. He later joined Suu Kyi's party and won a seat in the 1990 general election, whose results the military later nullified.

Win Myint, a senior member of the ruling National League for Democracy party led by Suu Kyi, was the former speaker of the powerful lower house of parliament.

"I welcome his election with the expectation that we will have a better situation in the country when he serves as president", he said. He was released two years later and ran successfully in the election in Danubyu but the ruling military junta refused to acknowledge his success.

Myint is a lawyer by profession, Myanmar Times reported. His involvement with the NLD began when it was established during the failed anti-military uprising of 1988, which led to his brief stint in prison.

He has been a member of the NLD central committee since 2010.

"To those who are asking, he will be forever Aung San Suu Kyi's henchman", he said.