A close ally of Aung San Suu Kyi has been elected as Myanmar’s new president by the country’s parliament.
Win Myint was elected Wednesday to succeed Htin Kyaw, who resigned last week citing ill health. The 66-year-old Win Myint, who served as speaker of Myanmar’s lower house of parliament until last week, is a veteran activist in Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy, which has dominated both houses of parliament since its landslide victory in 2015. He was briefly jailed in the 1990s under the ruling military junta, and was first elected to parliament in 2012 as the military transitioned to a nominal civilian government.
Win Myint easily defeated two other candidates, including Myint Swe, who was backed by the still-powerful military, which holds 25 percent of parliamentary seats under a constitution it drafted in 2008 that eventually turned over control to a full-civilian government. The military also holds several key cabinet posts, including defense, interior and border affairs.
Although Win Myint holds the post of president, Aung San Suu Kyi is the country’s de-facto leader in her post as state counselor, which she has declared is “above the president.” She is barred from serving as president under the military-drafted constitution, because her sons are British, as was her late husband.