Suu Kyi confidant is Myanmar’s new president

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Myanmar's new president Htin Kyaw (L) and National League for Democracy party leader Aung San Suu Kyi arrives to parliament in Naypyitaw March 30, 2016. Reuters

NAYPYITAW (Reuters) – Myanmar’s parliament yesterday picked a close ally of de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi as the country’s new president, a move unlikely to affect a delicate balance of power in a country where the army has retained a large political role.

Win Myint, who a week ago resigned from his post as the lower house speaker, was chosen by both chambers of the parliament where Suu Kyi’s ruling National League for Democracy (NLD) party holds a comfortable majority.

The outgoing president, Htin Kyaw, who was also close to Ms Suu Kyi, retired “in order to take rest from the current duties and responsibilities” amid visible weight loss and speculation over his health.

The election of the 66-year-old Win Myint, who is a life-long NLD member, is likely to mean a continuation of Ms Suu Kyi’s dominance over the executive and little change to the course taken by her nearly two-year-old administration, lawmakers and analysts say.

Win Myint won the election with 403 votes out of 636 cast by lawmakers. The parliament speaker did not say when Win Myint would be sworn in, although the ceremony is expected to take place today.

“There won’t be policy changes. The policy will continue as previously under the former president,” said Kyaw Tote, a lawmaker from the NLD.

The president is the head of state and government in Myanmar, and under the constitution has far-reaching powers. However, Htin Kyaw’s role was more ceremonial because Ms Suu Kyi has been Myanmar’s de facto leader since April 2016.

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