YANGON (AFP) - A close ally of Myanmar's de-facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi took a step closer to becoming the country's new president after the lower house overwhelmingly voted for Win Myint as its candidate on Friday (March 23).
The 66-year-old was the overriding favourite to take over the role when he resigned from his position as lower house speaker shortly after president Htin Kyaw abruptly stepped down on Wednesday.
"I hereby announce and confirm that the elected MPs group elected U Win Myint from Tarmwe constituency as a vice president," the new lower house speaker T Khun Myat announced after the session in the capital Naypyidaw.
He received 273 votes against 27 for the runner-up.
Parliament will now have to select the president from three candidates, one each from the lower and upper houses and the military.
Win Myint is expected to face the final vote next week against his two opponents, upper house candidate Henry Van Thio and the military-backed acting president Myint Swe.
Friday's endorsement of the former lawyer and political prisoner, however, means he is almost certain to clinch the job with Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy (NLD) party sporting a majority in both houses.
Suu Kyi is barred from the presidency because her children are not Myanmar citizens, a rule inserted by the military when it drafted a new constitution in 2008 that helped it retain a large role in running the country.
But Suu Kyi still leads the civilian government as state counsellor, a post engineered for her after her party dominated elections in 2015.
Win Myint stood beside Suu Kyi during the 1988 democracy movement that was brutally suppressed by the then military junta.
He is known for his strict management style in parliament but is one of Suu Kyi's inner circle so would likely remain loyal to the Nobel laureate as president.
Yangon-based political analyst Yan Kyaw said that while Win Myint's profile may rise, "he won't do anything against Daw Aung San Suu Kyi".
Suu Kyi widely remains a heroine domestically even though her reputation lies shattered on the world stage after failing to speak up on behalf of the country's Rohingya Muslim community.