Sunday 16 December 2018

Burma’s parliament elects Suu Kyi loyalist as new president

Win Myint, 66, is a stalwart member of Ms Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy.

Win Myint is Burma's new president (Aung Shine Oo/AP)
Win Myint is Burma's new president (Aung Shine Oo/AP)

By Associated Press reporters

Burma’s parliament has elected Win Myint, a loyalist of Aung San Suu Kyi, as the new president, while she retained her executive authority over the government.

The vote comes as Ms Suu Kyi’s civilian government has struggled to implement peace and national reconciliation, with the powerful military still embroiled in combat with ethnic rebels and under heavy international criticism for its brutal counter-insurgency campaign against the Muslim Rohingya minority.

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

It is still in charge of security matters and still faces accusations of rights abuses.

Like his predecessor Htin Kyaw, who retired last week for reasons of ill health, Win Myint, 66, is a Suu Kyi loyalist of many years and a stalwart member of her National League for Democracy, an affiliation which earned him a brief spell as a political prisoner more than two decades ago under the previous military government.

When Ms Suu Kyi’s government was installed in 2016, she explained that she would be “above the president”, a situation amenable to both the president and the public.

The job of state counsellor was created especially for Ms Suu Kyi because she is constitutionally banned from the presidency.

A clause in the 2008 military-drafted constitution bars anyone with a foreign spouse or child from holding the job. It clearly targeted Ms Suu Kyi, whose two sons are British, as was her late husband.

Burma’s president is elected by a joint sitting of the two houses of parliament from among the country’s three vice presidents, representing respectively the lower house, the upper house and the military, which under the constitution holds special privileges in the country’s administration including a 25% share of parliamentary seats and the three security portfolios in the cabinet.

The NLD’s landslide election victory in late 2015 gave it large majorities in both houses.

Win Myint received 403 votes of the combined houses against 211 for Myint Swe, the military’s nominee, and 18 for vice president Henry Van Tio.

Press Association

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