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A special sitting of Burma’s Union Parliament elected Htin Kyaw as the country’s next president on Tuesday. The 69-year-old is now set to be sworn in as Burma’s ninth president and first democratically-elected leader since 1962.
Htin Kyaw, the long-time friend and confidant of National League for Democracy (NLD) leader Aung San Suu Kyi, swept the parliament’s votes with more than half of the ballots. Lawmakers from both legislative chambers burst into applause at the conclusion of the tally.
Suu Kyi’s close friend —who has never held public office—comfortably secured the presidency with 360 votes from the total of 652 ballots counted. The other two candidates in the running, Myint Swe and Henry Van Thio, came away with 213 and 79 votes respectively.
The military’s pick for president, the outgoing Rangoon Chief Minister and former general Myint Swe will act as Burma’s senior vice-president. NLD lawmaker and ethnic Chin Henry Van Thio will serve as the secondary vice president.
The three candidates were cleared by a parliamentary scrutiny body only yesterday, during which questions arose over the constitutional eligibility of both Henry Van Thio and Myint Swe for Burma’s presidency.
Although Suu Kyi is constitutionally barred from the top job by virtue of her foreign family members, the Nobel laureate has indicated she will ‘‘be above the president,’’ effectively making Htin Kyaw her proxy.
Htin Kyaw and the NLD will take the helm of government on 1 April, fulfilling a mandate to rule issued by the Burmese people in November 2015, when the NLD secured an election victory and a numerical majority across both houses of Burma’s parliament.