Myanmar ushers in democracy with first civilian president in decades

Naypyidaw: Myanmar's lawmakers yesterday elected a close aide and longtime friend of Aung San Suu Kyi to become the country's first civilian president in decades, a historic moment for the formerly junta-run nation.

Htin Kyaw (left) Myamar's newly elected president, with Aung San Suu Kyi. Pic/AFP
Htin Kyaw (left) Myamar's newly elected president, with Aung San Suu Kyi. Pic/AFP

Htin Kyaw (69) hailed his elevation to the top post as "Suu Kyi's victory", a clear nod to her plan for him to serve as a proxy for the Nobel laureate who is constitutionally barred from becoming president. MPs erupted into applause after victory was announced following a lengthy ballot count by hand in the capital Naypyidaw in which Htin Kyaw took 360 of 652 votes cast.

"This is sister Aung San Suu Kyi's victory," the newly-elected president told reporters after the vote. "Thank you." Htin Kyaw will take office on April 1, replacing incumbent Thein Sein's five years of army-backed quasi-civilian leadership.

The two other candidates who were also running will now become the country's joint vice-presidents. They are retired general Myint Swe, who won 213 votes, and Chin MP Henry Van Thio, who gathered 79 votes.

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