March 14, 2016 3:32:48 pm
Myanmar’s parliament votes Tuesday to pick the country’s next president from a group of three final candidates, including a front runner who is a longtime confidant of Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi.
Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy party won overwhelming majorities in both houses of parliament in a November 8 general election and its lawmakers are expected to confirm party nominee Htin Kyaw as the country’s next leader.
The new president is to take office on April 1.
Myanmar’s electoral system requires that the president be chosen from candidates put forward by each of the two houses of parliament, and a third nominee from the military, which retains a quarter of the legislative seats.
The other candidates are a second NLD nominee, Henry Van Tio, and the military’s candidate, Myint Swe, a retired lieutenant general.
Parliament speaker Mann Win Khaing Than announced Monday that the vote would take place Tuesday, after lawmakers confirmed that all three candidates were eligible.
The NLD’s huge victory reflected the widespread public support for Suu Kyi, who fought for decades to end dictatorship in Myanmar and remains her party’s unquestioned leader. She was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize while under house arrest in 1991.
Suu Kyi was detained for more than 15 years, mostly under house arrest, by a military junta that feared her political popularity.
Myanmar’s constitution, written under the former junta’s direction, blocks Suu Kyi from becoming president because of a clause that excludes anyone with a foreign spouse or children. Suu Kyi’s two sons are British, as was her late husband. The clause is widely seen as having been written by the military with Suu Kyi in mind.
Suu Kyi has said she will be “above” the president and rule from behind the scenes, meaning that any NLD candidate would effectively be her proxy.
The new government will be Myanmar’s first to be democratically elected in more than half a century.
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