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Myanmar President Close to Aung San Suu Kyi

Htin Kyaw, left, newly elected president of Myanmar, walks with National League for Democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi at Myanmar's parliament in Naypyitaw, Myanmar, Tuesday, March 15, 2016.
Htin Kyaw, left, newly elected president of Myanmar, walks with National League for Democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi at Myanmar's parliament in Naypyitaw, Myanmar, Tuesday, March 15, 2016.
Myanmar’s New President Close to Aung San Suu Kyi
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Myanmar’s parliament has elected Htin Kyaw as the country’s next president.

The retired bureaucrat from the National League for Democracy, or NLD, won 360 of the 652 votes in a joint meeting of the legislature.

Htin Kyaw is not a member of parliament, but he is a close ally of NLD leader Aung San Suu Kyi. The pro-democracy leader was among the first to vote in Tuesday’s historic election.

Aung San Suu Kyi made no comment to reporters after the vote.

The Nobel Prize winner is popular with most citizens of Myanmar, also known as Burma. But she is barred by the constitution from becoming president because both of her sons have foreign citizenship.

A U.S. State Department official said the constitutional ban did not agree with basic democratic ideas.

“We remain concerned about certain provisions in Burma’s constitution that contradict fundamental democratic principles and prevent the people of Burma from voting for the leaders of their choice,” said the official.

“The people of Burma should be able to decide whether and when to amend the country’s constitution to alter or remove these provisions."

Aung San Suu Kyi has declared she will hold power over the president, whom she has known since primary school.

However, the military will remain powerful in the new government because it automatically holds one quarter of the parliamentary seats. The military also will control several important ministries.

Officials tried to prevent reporters from interviewing or videotaping the military’s members of parliament as they registered for the joint session.

“When the NLD forms a government, we will need to work together with them,” an army brigadier general, who declined to give his name, told VOA.

The army’s candidate for president, General Myint Swe, who placed second, will become the first vice president. The general, however, remains on a U.S. government blacklist, and Americans are barred with doing business with him.

The NLD’s Henry Van Thio, a Christian from Chin state, finished third in Tuesday’s voting and will become second vice president.

After the vote on Tuesday, lawmakers from both the NLD and the now opposition Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) stressed the need to work together.

However, analysts and some members of the NLD have expressed concern. They fear the influence of the generals will mean corruption will continue to be a problem in Myanmar.

Myanmar is a mainly Buddhist country of more than 55 million people. The country has suffered civil war or ethnic conflict for many of the years since the end of British colonial rule in 1948.

There has been progress in negotiating peace deals with different groups since a nominally civilian government took power in 2011. But low-intensity conflicts continue between Myanmar’s army and a number of armed ethnic minority groups.

The new government will take office on April 1.

I'm Mario Ritter.

VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reported on this story from Bangkok. Mario Ritter adapted his report for Learning English. Hai Do was the editor.


Words in This Story

bureaucrat n. someone who works for the government or a large company

contradict v. to say something that is the opposite of what someone or something else has said

provisions n. conditions that are part of an agreement

principle - n. a guiding moral rule or belief

quarter - n. one of four equal parts of something

analysts n. a person who studies something