Military VP Revealed As Executive Trio Finalized

By Kyaw Hsu Mon 11 March 2016

RANGOON — A military candidate joins two National League for Democracy (NLD) nominees in deliberations next week for the top executive offices in Burma’s new government.

The selection of a president and two vice presidents from among one military and two NLD picks will take place Monday in the Union Parliament; results are expected to be announced on Tuesday.

The sitting military lawmakers from both houses put forward former Rangoon Chief Minister Myint Swe—a Lt-Gen with a checkered past—for one of the vice presidential positions on Friday afternoon.

In Friday’s parliamentary session, Htin Kyaw, an executive committee member of an Aung San Suu Kyi-led foundation, was voted in as the Lower House’s NLD nominee for the post, and another NLD candidate, Henry Van Thio—an MP from Chin State—was selected by the Upper House.

Htin Kyaw, a close aide of Suu Kyi, garnered 274 votes against the Union Solidarity and Development Party’s (USDP) Sai Mauk Kham, the current vice president, who collected 29 votes. A total of 317 lawmakers participated in Friday’s voting session, with 14 votes invalidated.

In the Upper House, ethnic Chin lawmaker Henry Van Thio secured 148 votes, while former Upper House Speaker Khin Aung Myint, a sitting USDP parliamentarian, earned just 13. A total of 167 lawmakers attended Friday’s voting session, with six votes invalidated.

Of both NLD candidates, Htin Kyaw is expected to become Burma’s next president after the upcoming parliamentary vote.

Bertil Lintner, journalist and Burma expert, told The Irrawaddy that he wondered why the NLD had nominated Henry Van Thio for the vice presidency.

“As far as I know, he is a former army officer and was very close to Aung Thaung at the Ministry of Industry, and then made lots of money for himself,” Lintner said of the Chin lawmaker, who is a retired Burma Army major and reportedly also managed a state-run tobacco processing plant. The late Aung Thaung was one of the wealthiest men in Burma and also a notorious USDP hardliner.

“The NLD has made some very strange choices when it comes to ‘minority representatives,’” Lintner continued, pointing out the Lower House deputy speaker appointment of T Hkun Myat, an ethnic Kachin lawmaker with ties to a militia that has been accused of involvement in the drug trade.

Additional reporting by San Yamin Aung.