Aung San Suu Kyi runs for Burmese presidency in all but name

The party of Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi officially confirmed yesterday that she will not become Burma’s next president.

Aung San Suu Kyi runs for Burmese presidency in all but name

Unofficially, she has vowed to be the de-facto leader by calling the shots from behind the scenes, and party members said that’s how things will work in Burma’s first democratically-elected government in more than half a century.

The party nominated two Suu Kyi loyalists for the post including the front runner Htin Kyaw a 70-year-old Oxford graduate. The nomination will be followed by a vote among legislators later this month before the new president is installed April 1.

“I’m very happy and very pleased and I believe he (Htin Kyaw) will work together with Aung San Suu Kyi for the benefit of the people,” said Khin Su Su Kyi, an NLD lawmaker.

For the past several weeks Suu Kyi is believed to have held closed-door talks with the powerful military generals to suspend a constitutional clause that bars her from presidency.

The outcome of the negotiations was not known until yesterday when the names of the loyalists were announced, signalling the end, at least for now, of Suu Kyi’s longtime ambition to be Myanmar’s leader.

Suu Kyi did not attend yesterday’s high-profile nomination session but posted a letter on Facebook to her legions of supporters. She called it a “first step toward realizing the expectations and desires of the people who overwhelmingly supported the National League for Democracy in the elections.”

The longtime former political prisoner led her National League for Democracy to a landslide victory in Nov. 8 general elections, paving the way for the country’s first democratically elected government since the military took power in 1962.

Despite her massive popular support, the 70-year-old Suu Kyi is blocked from the presidency because the constitution bars anyone with a foreign spouse or children from holding the executive office.

Suu Kyi has made clear that even if she is not president she will be in charge.

Suu Kyi’s two sons are British, as was her late husband. The clause is widely seen as having been written by the military with her in mind.

Suu Kyi fought for decades to end dictatorship in Myanmar, and remains her party’s unquestioned leader. She was awarded the 1991 Nobel prize while under house arrest, where she spent 15 years locked away by a junta that feared her political popularity.

During Thursday’s parliament session, the NLD nominated, from the lower house, Htin Kyaw, a longtime confidante and associate of Suu Kyi. He is widely respected and seen as a front-runner.

Htin Kyaw’s father was a national poet and a National League for Democracy lawmaker from an aborted 1990 election, while his wife is a prominent legislator for the party in the current house.

From the upper house, the NLD nominated Henry Van Hti Yu of the an ethnic Chin minority.

The outgoing ruling party, the Union Solidarity and Development Party, also nominated two candidates — Sai Mauk Kham, currently a vice president, and former upper house speaker Khin Aung Myint.

The military bloc, which holds a constitutionally mandated 25% of seats, is also allowed to nominate one candidate. His name has not yet been announced. But he will likely become the country’s other vice president.

A vote will be held later this month to elect the president and two vice presidents.

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