Myanmar votes Htin Kyaw as new president

Htin Kyaw will serve as Myanmar's new president after votes were cast Tuesday, March 15, 2016.

Story highlights

  • Ruling NLD party nominee Htin Kyaw to be Myanmar's new president
  • Historic elections in November ushered in new government, hope for change

(CNN)Myanmar's parliament, the Hluttaw, has chosen Htin Kyaw as the country's new president, formally bringing to a close decades of military rule.

It is widely expected that the new leader, who was elected to the position by 360 votes, more than a third of the parliament's available 652 votes, will essentially act as a proxy for the majority National League for Democracy (NLD) leader Aung San Suu Kyi, who is constitutionally barred from running for the county's highest office.
    Suu Kyi has previously said that, despite being barred from running, she will be "above the president."
    The two other candidates put forward, Khin Aung Myint and Henry Van Thio, by the army and the upper house, respectively, will act as first and second vice president. With 213 votes, Khin Aung Myint will be first vice president and Henry Van Thio, with 79, second vice president.

    Myanmar's 'Lady'

    Known affectionately in Myanmar and further afield as "the Lady," Suu Kyi has led the NLD for three decades, sometimes under house arrest, but cannot be president, thanks to an clause in the constitution -- drafted by the then-ruling military junta in 2008 -- that many think were put in place specifically to bar her from office.
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    The constitution prevents anyone with children who are citizens of another country from becoming president. Both of Suu Kyi's adult sons are British citizens.
    Elected in her place is her close friend Htin Kyaw, who served as an executive officer for the Daw Khin Kyi Foundation, a charitable organization named after Suu Kyi's late mother. His father-in-law was also active in the establishment of the party.
    Htin Kyaw is one of Aung San Suu Kyi's closest confidantes, and was one of a handful of people allowed to visit her while she was under house arrest. He also studied alongside her in England and was close to her husband.

    Other candidates nominated

    Both the upper and lower houses of parliament, as well as the military, made nominations for vice president, with one of the three chosen by the Hluttaw.
    While the NLD has an absolute majority in both houses of the parliament, the military holds 25% of the seats, limiting the power of the ruling party to make changes to the constitution -- and thus Suu Kyi's chances of amending the clause that has so far excluded her from executive office.

    Historic election

    November's election was historic, not least because it marked the first poll since 1990 that Suu Kyi's party had contested, but also due to the size of the then-opposition NLD's win.
    The NLD was widely considered to have won the 1990 poll as well, but the military rulers annulled the results and placed Suu Kyi and many of her colleagues under arrest.
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    The daughter of Aung San, a military officer who became known as the founding father of independent Burma (now officially known as Myanmar), Suu Kyi spent much of the next two decades under house arrest, becoming an internationally recognized symbol of democracy and the country's most popular politician.
    The changes ushered in under President Thein Sein since 2011 have helped reduce the country's international isolation, with Western sanctions being eased and foreign investment starting to ramp up.
    Human rights groups have warned more recently of a rise in politically motivated arrests as well as discrimination directed against the Muslim minority, notably the stateless Rohingya population.
    November's elections were the first freely held in the nation in 25 years. Suu Kyi herself was reelected to her seat in the Kawhmu constituency in Yangon.