Myanmar picks first civilian president in over 50 years

Close Aung Sang Suu Kyi advisor Htin Kyaw won a parliamentary vote Tuesday to become Myanmar's first civilian president in over 50 years.

Htin Kyaw, who was imprisoned by Myanmar's previous military junta and was at Suu Kyi's side when she was released from house arrest in 2010, won 360 votes in a joint session of Myanmar's parliament.

“This is a victory of the people,” Htin Kyaw told the media after the vote.

He will begin his term on April 1 as the head of the country's first freely elected government since the military took over in the 1960s.

Htin Kyaw's selection was almost guaranteed by the National League for Democracy's (NLD) landslide victory in general elections in November, and its controlling majority in both houses of parliament.

A longtime member of the NLD, the 69-year-old is the son of a famous poet and is married to NLD lawmaker Su Su Lwin.

But he is not known as a politician in his own right, and many commentators believe he will be a "proxy president" for Suu Kyi.

The Nobel laureate was constitutionally barred from holding the presidency because her two sons have foreign citizenship, as their father was British.

She has previously said she will be "above the president" in the next government.

The other two nominees for president were selected as vice presidents.

Myint Swe, a retired general with a reputation as a hardliner, became the first vice president, with 213 votes.

Parliamentarian Henry Van Thio, another ally of Suu Kyi and a member of the Chin ethnic minority, was chosen as the second vice president with 79 votes.

Members of a new cabinet led by the newly elected president are set to be announced by March 25, and will be sworn in by March 29, said senior NLD lawmaker Myo Aung.

Last update: Tue, 15/03/2016 - 14:03
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