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Aung San Suu Kyi’s close ally elected Myanmar’s president

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Myanmar’s democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi (R) and President-elect Htin Kyaw arrive at the lower house of the parliament, March 11, 2016. (Photo by AFP)

Myanmar’s parliament has elected a close aide and lifetime friend to opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi as the next president of the country.

Htin Kyaw, 70, won with 360 of the 652 votes cast in the parliament on Tuesday.

Military-nominated Myint Swe came in second with 213 votes. Another candidate from Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy (NLD), Henry Van Thio, received 79 votes.

According to Myanmarese law, the two will serve as first and second vice-president respectively.

President-elect Htin Kyaw is the son of veteran NLD member Min Thu Wun. His wife is a sitting NLD lawmaker, whose own late father was once party spokesman.

After the vote, Htin Kyaw praised his election as a victory for Suu Kyi, saying, “Victory! This is sister Aung San Suu Kyi’s victory. Thank you.”

He will replace outgoing President Thein Sein, who will step down in March or April after five years of army-backed rule.

In November, Suu Kyi’s NLD won 80 percent of parliamentary seats during a general election, qualifying it to form a government. The military of Myanmar, however, reserved a quarter of total seats and remained a powerful force in the South Asian country.

Despite weeks of negotiations prior to the vote, the military refused to change a clause in the constitution that bars Suu Kyi from the post of presidency. Suu Kyi, who spent years under house arrest, is barred because her children do not hold Myanmarese citizenship. However, the election of Htin Kyaw, a confidante of Suu Kyi and once her driver, effectively puts her in the driver’s seat.

Suu Kyi had said previously that she would have a post “above the president,” and vowed to rule from behind the scenes.

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