The National League for Democracy (NLD) deputy, is the first civilian to occupy the position since 1962. Elected today with 360 votes out of 652, he defeated a fellow party member and the junta candidate, who will be vice-presidents.
Naypiyadaw (AsiaNews) - Myanmar has a new president, the first civilian not a member of the military junta since 1962. Htin Kyaw, Aung San Suu Kyi’s loyal follower and the main candidate of the National League for Democracy (NLD) won 360 votes out of 652 available, defeating the military’s candidate Myint Swe (213 votes) and the other Democrat candidate Henry Van Thio (79 votes). These will both take up the position of vice president. On April Kyaw Htin will take over from Thein Sein, the retired army general who has been president since 2011. Htin will govern for the next five years.
Htin’s election as President crowns the victory of Aung San Suu Kyi’s party in the November elections, when it got more than 80% of the votes. The Nobel Laureate, deprived of the opportunity to run for the highest office because of a specially designed norm contra personam, chose a man she trusted in order to govern "beyond" the president.
Htin Kyaw, in fact, has a long history of democratic militancy alongside the "Lady." An Oxford graduate, 70, he has been among the leading figures of the NLD and was next to Suu Kyi when she was released from house arrest in November 2010. He has even served as her driver. According to experts his best quality is "knowing how to take orders."
A reserved character, Kyaw is the son of the writer and poet Min Thu Wun, who won a seat in the elections won by Democrats in 1990 but never recognized by the junta. His wife Su Su Lwin is the daughter of one of the founders of the NLD. Kyaw also played a leading role in the "Daw Khin Kyi Foundation", a charitable organization founded in honor and in memory of the mother of Aung San Suu Kyi.
Another source of satisfaction for the Democrats is the election of Henry Van Thio, the first Christian Chin minority in the history of Myanmar as Vice-President. His appointment is seen by many observers as a sign of Aung San Suu Kyi’s will to form an inclusive government of "national reconciliation", which also represents the many ethnic minorities in the nation (which are about a third of the population) and which are in constant conflict with the central government. Van Thio, 57, comes from the Chin State, one of the poorest of Myanmar, on the western border with India.