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Iran Press TV

Party nominates Suu Kyi's ex-driver for Myanmar president

Iran Press TV

Thu Mar 10, 2016 9:12AM

The party of Myanmar's democracy leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, has nominated her former driver and close friend for president.

Myanmar's National League for Democracy (NLD) announced 69-year-old Htin Kyaw as the party's nominee for the post on Thursday.

Under Myanmar's constitution, Suu Kyi herself is banned from holding the executive office because her children are foreign nationals and not Myanmarese citizens.

For the past several weeks, Suu Kyi is believed to have held closed door talks with the powerful military generals to suspend a constitutional clause that bars her from presidency.

The Thursday announcement signals the end, at least for now, of Suu Kyi's longtime ambition to be Myanmar's leader but many analysts say Htin Kyaw will act as her proxy.

Kyaw Thiha, an upper house NLD lawmaker, said Thursday that the new president will take orders from Suu Kyi.

'She cannot become the president, but it doesn't really matter because she will be controlling everything. She will be the one to control us,' Kyaw Thiha said.

Suu Kyi has previously said that even with the election of someone else as president, she will be the de-facto leader, and will have a position "above" the president.

Last November, Suu Kyi's NLD won about 80 percent of contested parliamentary seats, more than the two-thirds it needed to control the parliament and select the president.

Myanmar has an indirect system for electing a president, based on which three candidates are nominated – one by the lower house, one by the upper house, and one by the military bloc in the parliament.

A parliamentary commission vets the candidates, and both houses will subsequently vote in a joint session. The winner of the vote will become president and the losing nominees will take up the posts of vice president.

The NLD, which dominates both houses of parliament, nominated Htin Kyaw from the lower house, and Henry Van Hti Yu, an ethnic Chin minority, from the upper house.

The parliament is set to hold the vote to select the president later this month. The president picked will take over from outgoing Thein Sein on April 1.

Htin Kyaw's background

Htin Kyaw is the son of veteran NLD member Min Thu Wun. His wife is a sitting NLD lawmaker, whose own late father was once party spokesman.

Htin Kyaw went to school with Suu Kyi and once served as her driver. He has long been part of Suu Kyi's inner circle and currently runs her charity. He is a graduate of economics and has taught at university.

It is not still clear how Suu Kyi will rule through Htin Kyaw in the future government. Some say she may take up the post of foreign minister, which will give her both a position in the cabinet and a seat in the military-dominated security council.

Suu Kyi has vowed to create a government of national reconciliation. However, she has turned a blind eye to the plight of Myanmar's Rohingya Muslims.

The Rohingyas, who mainly live in the western state of Rakhine, have been subject to systematic repression by extremist Buddhists since the country's independence in 1948.

Muslim candidates were barred from taking part in Myanmar's parliamentary elections, and Rohingya Muslims were also deprived of the right to vote.

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