By MRATT KYAW THU in NAY PYI TAW
& SEAN GLEESON in YANGON
As expected, the Union parliament on Friday morning confirmed National League for Democracy members U Htin Kyaw and U Henry Van Thio as vice-presidential candidates.
U Htin Kyaw received the endorsement of 274 of the 330 civilian lawmakers in the Pyithu Hluttaw. The Lower House’s 110 military lawmakers are currently caucusing separately to determine their vice-presidential nominee.
Outgoing vice-president Dr Sai Mauk Kham, who was nominated by the Union Solidarity and Development Party, received 29 votes, one vote short of the USDP’s current Pyithu representation after the party’s crushing election defeat last November. The vote had 14 invalid ballots and 13 absences.
In the Amyotha Hluttaw, Henry Van Thio, elected to represent the chamber’s Chin-3 constituency last year, received an emphatic endorsement of 148 votes from a total of 168 civilian lawmakers. USDP candidate U Khin Aung Myint, the Amyotha Hluttaw speaker during the last term of parliament, received 13 votes, with 6 invalid ballots cast.
Former government minister U Soe Thane, who successfully contested Kayah-9 as an independent last year, was the sole absence.
Parliament adjourned for the day shortly before noon on Friday. The announcement of the military’s vice-presidential nominee, and a vote on which of the three candidates is to assume the presidency at the end of the month, is expected on Monday at the earliest.
Htin Kyaw is all but certain to be Myanmar’s next head-of-state, acting as a proxy for party leader Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, as a result of the military-drafted 2008 Constitution disqualifying her from contesting the presidency herself.