Myanmar elects civilian president after 50 years (Roundup)

Nay Pyi Taw, March 15 (IANS) Myanmar on Tuesday elected U Htin Kyaw of the ruling National League for Democracy (NLD) party as its new president, the first civilian to lead the country after over 50 years of military rule, media reports said.

“Today’s result is a triumph for (NLD leader) Aung San Suu Kyi,” The Myanmar Times quoted U Htin Kyaw, a 69-year-old academic and long-time aide of the Nobel laureate, as saying after the results were declared.

U Htin Kyaw was elected with 360 votes while U Myint Swe from the Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP), who was directly assigned by the military, was elected first vice president with 213 votes.

The appointed military bloc in parliament holds 166 seats, 25 percent of the total, while the military-backed USDP has 41 seats in the two houses. U Henry Van Thio, an NLD upper house member and an ethnic Chin Christian, was elected second vice president with 79 votes.

The new government will be sworn-in on March 30 and will assume office from April 1.

U Htin Kyaw, a year younger than Suu Kyi, attended school with her at Dagon township’s Basic Education High School Number 1.

According to sources, he received a bachelor’s and then a master’s degree in economics from Yangon University.

In 1971, he became the first scholar to be sent abroad by the university’s fledgling computer department. He studied at the now-defunct University of London Institute of Computer Science at the same time that Aung San Suu Kyi lived in London.

She later became a student at the University of London’s School of Oriental and African Studies, while U Htin Kyaw returned to socialist-era Mynamar, ruled by General Ne Win.

Suu Kyi led the NLD to a landslide victory in last year’s November 8 general elections after decades of often brutal rule by Myanmar’s generals.

Suu Kyi nominated U Htin Kyaw “obviously to show that he is the most trusted person for her”, Al Jazeera quoted Zaw Min, 48, a former NLD member as saying.

“If this kind of person leads the country … it will also affect positively on the people of this country,” he said.

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