RANGOON — Should the National League for Democracy (NLD) win the necessary majority in Sunday’s general election, the next logical question is: who will the party put forward as a presidential candidate?
With the party’s ever-popular chairwoman, Aung San Suu Kyi, constitutionally barred from the top post, there is much speculation, but no clear frontrunners for the role.
Suu Kyi told supporters at a rally in early October that she knew who the party would put forward, but could not yet disclose it. She followed this remark with a reminder that, whoever the party selects as president, she would ultimately be “the leader of the NLD government.”
With the predictions and rumors rife in recent days, even NLD candidates are curious to know who the party’s presidential pick would be. Among the names being touted are Htin Kyaw, a senior party member, and Win Htein, a central executive committee member.
A confidante of the NLD leader, Htin Kyaw is married to Su Su Lwin, the daughter of the late U Lwin, a former Burma Army colonel who joined the opposition party in its infancy.
Political analyst Yan Myo Thein said it was still too early to make an educated estimation and said Suu Kyi’s thinking may change depending on the precise election results. He said that Suu Kyi would likely make a selection only after discussing the matter with other elected leaders from the incumbent party, ethnic and other political parties and the armed forces.
“That’s the main reason why she is still silent on who will be the president if the NLD wins,” Yan Myo Thein said.
Aye Lwin, a member of the Union of Myanmar Federation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry—and an NLD supporter—echoed Yan Myo Thein’s view that the opposition leader would make a considered decision after the new Parliament takes shape.
“She will definitely prioritize a president who can work for national reconciliation and one who will hold the same ideas as her,” he said.
Less willing to speculate, NLD candidates are putting their faith in The Lady to make a wise political choice.
“I believe in Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, she has many ideas for [the presidency]. She will arrange the best selection,” said Shwe Shwe Sein Latt who is contesting the Upper House constituency of Pegu-3, encompassing Dike Oo, Waw and Shwe Kyin townships in Pegu Division.
Nay Phone Latt, a well-known blogger and an NLD Lower House candidate for Rangoon’s Thingangyun Township, said regardless of Suu Kyi’s selection, the chairwoman would effectively control the government should the NLD be successful on Nov. 8.
“As others have said, Aunty [Suu Kyi] will consider a president who will work for national reconciliation. She is the one who can lead this work,” he said. “[But] we have enough human resources to select a presidential candidate from within the NLD.”
Burma’s president is elected by Parliament from among three vice presidential candidates in a vote that will likely take place in February or March of next year.
Another, perhaps more curious, rumor has it that Suu Kyi’s personal physician, Dr Tin Myo Win, could be considered to lead the executive. He did little to quash that suggestion when speaking to The Irrawaddy last week.
“[Suu Kyi] has said that our policies include reconciliation, harmony and the elimination of antagonism. So we’ll accept anyone for the presidency who embraces those principles,” Tin Myo Win said. “If I am the one [elected], support should be given. I want to see, as soon as possible, [people] working collaboratively for our country. Suppose there is a ministerial position available, not only should an NLD [member] get that position. Anyone who is suitable for that post should get it.”