YANGON (AFP) - Aung San Suu Kyi's pro-democracy party on Monday (March 7) denounced as "fake" a widely circulated letter purporting to reveal its choice of proxy Myanmar president, as speculation over who will take the role reaches fever pitch.
Suu Kyi and her National League for Democracy (NLD) have kept a tight lid on who they want to become the president of Myanmar's first popularly elected government in decades, as they navigated the tense four-month political transition since November's landmark elections.
But with just days to go before they are set to announce their preferences on Thursday, and with Suu Kyi still blocked from the role by the junta-era constitution, a letter purporting to reveal the selecting emerged on social media on Sunday.
"That statement was not released by the NLD and was just a fake one. We hereby announce that such kind of fabrication is like committing a crime," the NLD said on its official Facebook account on Monday.
The purported document, which was stamped with an official NLD logo, listed current presidential favourite Htin Kyaw and ethnic Shan MP Hkun Tun Oo as the party's nominees for the roles of vice presidents - one of whom would be selected as leader.
Suu Kyi, 70, has vowed to rule "above" whoever the next president is, meaning that the role would have to go to someone whose absolute loyalty was assured.
As conjecture has swung around almost all of Suu Kyi's closest confidants, Htin Kyaw, a softly-spoken 69-year-old whose wife is a sitting NLD MP, has recently emerged as the favourite.
Currently helping to run Suu Kyi's charitable foundation, he is an old school friend and one-time driver of the Nobel laureate whose family has been closely entwined with the NLD for decades.
In Myanmar's complex political system, November elections decided the make-up of a new parliament that began sitting in February with a hefty NLD majority.
Parliament now picks the president from three candidates put forward by elected MPs in the upper house and lower house as well as the unelected soldiers who still make up a quarter of all seats in the legislature.
Despite her status as Myanmar's preeminent democracy champion, Suu Kyi is excluded because of a clause in the charter that prohibits those with foreign close relations from high office. Her late husband and two sons are British.
Her party is mindful of the bitter disappointment that followed its 1990 landslide election win when the generals ignored the result and clung onto power for a further two decades.
Incumbent President Thein Sein, who stunned the international community with sweeping reforms after taking office in 2011, has pledged to respect the results of the elections, as has the still hugely powerful army chief.
But political tensions have begun to simmer as the country edges towards the handover to an NLD-selected president at the end of the month.