Lower House to vote on new speaker tomorrow, legislative agenda indicates

Lower House to vote on new speaker tomorrow, legislative agenda indicates

According to an agenda for the Lower House’s 22 March parliamentary session, lawmakers in the chamber are due tomorrow to select a speaker to replace Win Myint, who abruptly stepped down from the post on Wednesday.

The announcement of his resignation was preceded less than two hours earlier by a statement from the President’s Office informing an unsuspecting Burmese public that their president, Htin Kyaw, was resigning effective immediately.

The rapid sequence of events led to widespread speculation that 66-year-old Win Myint, a National League for Democracy (NLD) stalwart, would succeed Htin Kyaw as Burma’s head of state.

Speaking to reporters following Wednesday’s surprise announcements, Lower House lawmaker Hla Moe, also a member of the ruling NLD, said the chamber would select a replacement for Win Myint before moving forward with the formal process of choosing the next president.

Win Myint met with NLD lawmakers on Wednesday following the announcement that he would resign. Lower House MP Zin Mar Aung told DVB that a press conference would likely be held to explain the recent departures at the upper echelons of Burma’s executive and legislative branches, both of which are controlled by the NLD.

Also on the agenda for Thursday’s Lower House session is a line item that similarly calls for the election of a deputy speaker for the chamber, but with the caveat “if necessary.”

The distinction is important because Lower House Deputy Speaker T Khun Myat has not indicated that he too is stepping down, and in fact was the lawmaker at the dais announcing Win Myint’s resignation on Wednesday. Equally noteworthy, however, is his party affiliation: Unlike the now-former Lower House speaker and his Upper House counterpart, T Khun Myat is not a member of the NLD, and instead owes his partisan allegiance to the military-backed Union Solidarity and Development Party.

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The lower chamber is apparently moving quickly to shore up its leadership ranks in the face of a constitutionally enumerated timetable requiring that the Union Parliament elect a new president within seven days of Htin Kyaw’s resignation.

Before that, MPs in the Lower House must select an individual to serve as one of what amounts to three presidential contenders, among whom the president will ultimately be selected in a vote by the full Union Parliament. The current senior vice president, Myint Swe, is serving as acting president until Htin Kyaw’s successor is chosen; Henry Van Thio is the country’s “vice president No. 2”, and the two men will round out the trio from which Burma’s next president will emerge.

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