Myanmar army endorses new president

  • 16/03/2016
Incoming president Htin Kyaw (AAP)
Incoming president Htin Kyaw (AAP)

By Aung Hla Tun

Myanmar's powerful army chief congratulated incoming president Htin Kyaw and pledged co-operation on Wednesday (local time), after the ally of Aung San Suu Kyi was elected as the country's first head of state with no military background in decades.

Suu Kyi led her National League for Democracy (NLD) to a landslide election win in November, but a constitution drafted by the former junta bars her from the top office.

She has vowed to run the country anyway through a proxy president, and on Tuesday the NLD-dominated parliament elected Htin Kyaw for the role. He runs a charity founded by Suu Kyi and is a trusted member of her inner circle.

Relations between the armed forces and Suu Kyi will define the success of Myanmar's most significant break from military rule since the army seized power in 1962.

The armed forces hold a quarter of parliamentary seats and the constitutional right to nominate one of the three presidential candidates. The army candidate, retired general Myint Swe, was elected first vice president on Tuesday.

"It is hereby announced that the Tatmadaw takes pride in U Htin Kyaw's being elected as the President at the Second Union Parliament, and it will continue co-operating in every sector for the emergence of peace, unity and development," the Office of the Commander-in-Chief, Min Aung Hlaing, said on Facebook.

Tatmadaw is the Myanmar language name for the military.

Min Aung Hlaing issued the message several hours after the vote and long after outgoing President Thein Sein and representatives of other countries, including China and the United States, had extended their congratulations.