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Myanmar parliament elects first civilian president in decades

Member of the National League for Democracy U Htin Kyaw arrives for the opening of the new parliament in Naypyitaw 1 February 2016.Image copyrightReuters
Image captionHtin Kyaw is known to be a close ally of National League for Democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi

Myanmar’s parliament has elected Htin Kyaw as the next president, the first civilian to lead the country after more than 50 years of military rule.

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.

He beat another NLD candidate and one put forward by the military.

Ms Suu Kyi is barred from the post due to a constitutional clause, but has said she would be above the president.

Htin Kyaw won with 360 of the 652 votes cast.

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

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

Who is Htin Kyaw?

In this file picture taken on 13 November 2010, Htin Kyaw (L), a senior National League for Democracy (NLD) official stands next to Aung San Suu Kyi (R) at her residence on the day of her release from house arrest in Yangon where she was detained for nearly two decadesImage copyrightAFP/Getty Images
  • Htin Kyaw, 70, is Ms Suu Kyi’s close aide.
  • He is said to be a quietly spoken man who attended university in the UK. He has a reputation for honesty and loyalty, and has kept a low profile.
  • His father, the writer and poet Min Thu Wun, won a seat for the party at the 1990 election.
  • His wife, Su Su Lwin, is the daughter of an NLD founder, as well as being a sitting MP, and a prominent party member.
  • He has played a senior role at the Daw Khin Kyi Foundation, the charity founded in honour of Suu Kyi’s late mother, and has been frequently seen at the NLD leader’s side, serving as her driver from time to time.

Htin Kyaw will replace Thein Sein who will step down at the end of the month after five years of army-backed rule.

The NLD has a huge majority in both houses of parliament, despite the military occupying 25% of seats, so the candidate it backed was always seen as all but guaranteed to win.

Media captionWhen Myanmar’s next president went to jail

Ms Suu Kyi could not run for president because a clause in the constitution widely seen as being tailored against her says anyone whose children have another nationality cannot become president. Her children hold British passports.

How Suu Kyi could be more powerful outside the presidency

Despite weeks of negotiation prior to the vote, the NLD were unable to persuade the military of Myanmar – also known as Burma – to remove or suspend the clause to allow Ms Suu Kyi to take office.

But she has always said that she would run the country anyway, with the president effectively acting as a proxy.

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