Myanmar parliament picks Suu Kyi confidant Win Myint as new president


Myanmar lawmakers on Wednesday elected close Aung San Suu Kyi ally and former parliamentary speaker Win Myint as the country's tenth president since it gained independence in 1948, and the second to serve under the current National League for Democracy government.

Myanmar's parliament on Wednesday elected as the country's new president a longtime loyalist of Aung San Suu Kyi who is expected to carry on his predecessor's practice of deferring to her as her nation's de facto leader.

Under Myanmar's constitution, only the country's vice presidents - there are now three, one appointed by the military members of parliament and the other two separately by the elected members of the upper and lower houses - are eligible to run for president.

Mr Win Myint, the former Lower House speaker, won 403 out of 636 votes in parliament, in a race that included vice-presidents Myint Swe and Henry Van Thio. Under the constitution, it maintains 25 percent of seats in parliament and three security positions in the Cabinet.

Nobel Peace Prize victor Ms Suu Kyi has retained her executive authority over the government, meaning she is "above the president", she explained in 2016. She is barred from serving as president under the military-drafted constitution, because her sons are British, as was her late husband.

Mr Win Myint, a member of the NLD's key decision-making body, is a former court lawyer who won a seat in the 1990 election that was later not recognised by then ruling junta.

The job of state counsellor was created especially for Suu Kyi because she is constitutionally banned from the presidency. Suu Kyi apparent defense of the military's counterinsurgency campaign and rights abuses against Rohingya has tarnished the image of the pro-democracy leader. The president's role, under this arrangement, is largely ceremonial.

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Having been both a member of the NLD's Central Executive Committee and speaker of the lower house for two years shows Win Myint holds the skills to be president, said Win Zaw, a lower house lawmaker from the party.

"He is a politician who had been involved (with democratic struggle) since the beginning".

While leaving parliament, Win Myint told reporters: "I am going to serve my duty as well as I can".

"He is good at both legislation and administration and I assume that is a good thing", said NLD upper house representative Nwe Nwe Aung.

He returned to politics in 2012 during a local by-election and after he won the 2015 election as well, he was promoted as the speaker of the lower house.

Win Myint comes from Myanmar's southern agricultural heartland in the Ayeyarwady delta region.

However, Khin Zaw Win, the director of the Tampadipa Institute, a policy advocacy group, said the new president will remain under the control of Suu Kyi.