The Lower House will begin the process of nominating its candidate for Burma’s next president during a parliamentary session on Friday, with that individual likely to be elected to the country’s top civilian post in the coming days.
The sudden resignation of President Htin Kyaw, announced on Wednesday morning, has set in motion the as-yet-untested constitutional process by which the national legislature will select his successor.
A constitutionally enumerated timetable requires that the Union Parliament elect a new president within seven days of Htin Kyaw’s resignation. But before that, MPs in the Lower House must nominate 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 elected; 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 be chosen.
The runners-up will be vice presidents, and it is widely anticipated that the Lower House nominee, widely tipped to be the former speaker of the chamber Win Myint, will emerge victorious. Holding nearly 80 percent of elected seats across the Union Parliament, the National League for Democracy (NLD) — barring an unprecedented fracturing within the party — will decide the next president, and the likely Lower House nominee Win Myint would almost certainly win a plurality of votes on a ballot up against Myint Swe and Van Thio.
Speaking to DVB, senior NLD party leader Myo Nyunt added to mounting speculation that Win Myint would ultimately assume the presidency.
“Analysing the current sequence of processes, I predict that Win Myint will become the head of state,” he said on Thursday, while adding, “The party has not been officially informed [of the NLD’s pick] as of now.”
The agenda for Friday’s Lower House parliamentary session indicates that only elected MPs will participate in proceedings, leaving out the 25 percent of lawmakers in the chamber who are appointed by the military, in line with the Constitution’s article 73(c).
Though Friday’s agenda explicitly indicates that candidates will be nominated and announced during the session, it is not clear that Lower House lawmakers will be voting to decide the chamber’s final choice tomorrow. All candidates must first be scrutinised for presidential eligibility, and the last item in Friday’s eight-point agenda appears to indicate that the parliamentary proceedings will carry over into a second day.
On Thursday morning, T Khun Myat was selected by Lower House MPs to replace Win Myint as Lower House speaker, and the chairman of the chamber’s Bill Committee Tun Tun Hein was chosen to serve as his deputy. T Khun Myat had served as deputy Lower House speaker since the current crop of parliamentarians took their seats in February 2016.