Aung San Suu Kyi's party names Htin Kyaw as Myanmar presidential nominee

National League for Democracy's Htin Kyaw arriving for the opening of the new parliament in Naypyitaw on Feb 1, 2016.
National League for Democracy's Htin Kyaw arriving for the opening of the new parliament in Naypyitaw on Feb 1, 2016. PHOTO: REUTERS

Myanmar’s National League for Democracy (NLD) has nominated Mr Htin Kyaw,  long-time party veteran and close personal friend of party leader Aung San Suu Kyi, for the position of president of Myanmar. 

He was nominated by the NLD-led lower house of parliament on Thursday morning (March 10) and is one of three nominees for the post.

Another candidate, nominated by the NLD-led upper house, is Mr Henry Van Thio, an ethnic Chin minority and NLD lawmaker.

The third nominee is to be announced by the army, which has a block of 25 per cent of parliament seats.

 

But Mr Htin Kyaw’s stature makes it obvious that he is the NLD’s choice for president and will be easily voted into the post by sitting Members of Parliament. This means the other two nominees will take up the positions of vice-president.

The vote is likely to take place next week, after procedural requirements including setting up of scrutinising committees. 

Mr Htin Kyaw, 69, reportedly has an economics degree from Rangoon University. More importantly, he comes with a sterling political and intellectual pedigree. He is the son of prominent writer and intellectual Min Thu Wun, who was an early leader of the NLD and well known to Ms Suu Kyi’s father, independence hero General Aung San. 

Mr Min Thu Wun, who died in 2004, was also close to U Thant, the first Asian Secretary-General of the United Nations.  They were born within two weeks of each other in 1909.

Mr Htin Kyaw’s wife Su Su Lwin is also close to Ms Suu Kyi, and is herself the daughter of a former army colonel, the late U Lwin, who was an early member of the NLD, helping to set up the party and leading it in the 1990s. 

Ms Su Su Lwin, who won a by-election in 2012 from her father’s old constituency Thongwa, won again last November. She is head of the lower house’s international relations committee. 

Myanmar's next president will on paper become the head of the first government to come from democratic elections since a military takeover in 1962.

In reality, he will probably defer to Ms Suu Kyi, who has said she would be “above the president” and run the government despite a constitutional ban on her holding the nation’s highest office.