Htin Kyaw, a close ally of Aung San Suu Kyi, whose National League for Democracy (NLD) party swept to victory in historic elections in November, has been elected Myanmar’s first civilian president for over half a century. Htin Kyaw won with 360 of the 652 votes cast in the two houses of parliament. In second place with 213 votes was Myint Swe, a hardliner who was nominated by the military. He was followed by Htin Kyaw’s running mate and ethnic Chin candidate Henry Van Thio, who got 79 votes. They will serve as first vice-president and second vice-president respectively.
Htin Kyaw has a low profile with a reputation for honesty and loyalty. He comes from a political family. His father was an MP and his wife is also a sitting NLD MP.
Although the NLD has a huge majority in both houses of parliament, the military occupy a guaranteed 25% of the seats and they still control the key security ministries. The military also has a veto on constitutional changes.
It remains to be seen how relations will develop with Aung San Suu Kyi, the charismatic leader of the NLD, who as barred from becoming president as her children were born abroad. She has previously said that she would be “above the president” anyway, ruling through a proxy.
Now that Myanmar’s presidency is set, the NLD can begin the process in earnest of selecting cabinet ministers and forming a government in advance of the official hand-over of power April 1.