Lower House votes Win Myint for VP; election to presidency seen as likely

Lower House votes Win Myint for VP; election to presidency seen as likely

Elected MPs in the Lower House on Friday selected Win Myint, the chamber’s former speaker, as its pick for vice president and concurrently its presidential nominee, in a landslide vote that has locked in his status as Burma’s presumptive next president.

Winning 273 votes out of 304 ballots cast, Win Myint’s name will now be put before the Union Parliament alongside acting President Myint Swe and sitting Vice President Henry Van Thio for a vote to determine who will succeed former President Htin Kyaw. He resigned unexpectedly on Wednesday “to take a rest from his duties,” an apparent euphemism for health woes.

The Lower House MPs earlier on Friday nominated two candidates as their prospective vice presidential pick. In addition to Win Myint — a veteran member of the ruling National League for Democracy (NLD) — the chamber put forward Thaung Aye, a Union Solidarity and Development Party lawmaker representing Pyawbwe Township in Mandalay Region, who received just 27 votes to Win Myint’s 273 in the afternoon balloting.

One lawmaker was absent from Friday’s vote.

Attention will now turn to the Union Parliament, where the winner of a plurality of votes will become Burma’s next president. With the NLD holding nearly 80 percent of elected seats across both chambers of the bicameral legislature, Win Myint is the odds-on favourite to come out on top, and Myint Swe and Van Thio will likely retain their roles as vice president Nos. 1 and 2, respectively.

Under article 73(a) of the Constitution, Myint Swe is acting president until Htin Kyaw’s successor is chosen.

The former president served as a largely ceremonial head of state, with State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi effectively acting as Burma’s civilian leader through a legislative work-around she engineered in light of the constitutional provision barring her from the presidency.

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Unlike Win Myint, Htin Kyaw had no formal political experience before assuming the presidency and it remains to be seen how the working relationship and power dynamics between the former speaker and the state counsellor will play out, should he be elected president as is expected. It is worth noting that he has been described as a Suu Kyi loyalist and has been with the NLD since its earliest days.

Win Myint, who first entered Parliament in a 2012 by-election, resigned his post as Lower House speaker on Wednesday shortly after Htin Kyaw’s resignation was announced. His deputy T Khun Myat was elected by lawmakers to succeed him in a vote on Thursday.

The Union Parliament is expected to convene on Monday to vote for Burma’s next president.

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