Hluttaw vote confirms Htin Kyaw presidency

YANGON — The Union parliament has, as expected, confirmed National League for Democracy stalwart U Htin Kyaw as the successor to outgoing President U Thein Sein.

Concluding shortly before 12:30pm on Tuesday, the Pyidaungsu Hluttaw vote elected U Htin Kyaw with 360 of the 652 ballots cast. He will take office on April 1.

213 ballots were cast for former general and outgoing Yangon Region Chief Minister U Myint Swe, who will assume the office of Vice-President 1. 79 MPs cast their votes for NLD lawmaker Henry Van Thio (Amyotha, Chin-3), who will take the second vice-presidential slot.

12 MPs were absent from Tuesday’s proceedings.

Assuming a vote on party lines, the vast majority of NLD lawmakers appear to have voted for U Htin Kyaw, with less than 10 ballots from the party in favour of Henry Van Thio. U Myint Swe’s vote tally was higher than the combined 207 seats held by the military bloc and the Union Solidarity and Development Party, suggesting that at least six ethnic party lawmakers lent their support to the long-time acolyte of former junta leader Senior General Than Shwe.

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Under Section 73 of the 2008 Constitution, should the office of the president fall vacant, Myint Swe will assume the presidency for a period of up to three weeks.

In that scenario, the Pyithu Hluttaw would hold another vote for the vice-presidency to determine a replacement for Htin Kyaw, and a joint sitting of parliament would hold another vote to determine a presidential successor.

Htin Kyaw is expected to act as a proxy leader for NLD leader Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, who last year vowed to rule “above the president” in the event that the NLD was able to form government after the November 2015 general election. 

Suu Kyi is rumoured to be seeking the office of Foreign Minister in the next government, which would allow her to sit on the powerful National Defence and Security Council alongside Htin Kyaw and the two vice-presidents. 

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