Parliament Elects Ex-House Speaker Myanmar's Next President

By The Irrawaddy 28 March 2018

YANGON — The Union Parliament on Wednesday elected former Lower House Speaker U Win Myint the country’s 10th president after U Htin Kyaw left the post last week citing the need to rest.

U Win Myint became president-elect after securing 403 votes from the 636 lawmakers of the Upper House and Lower House. The other two candidates, U Myint Swe and U Henry Van Thio, secured 211 and 18 votes, respectively.

U Myint Swe is currently the country’s acting president. Based on the number of votes he secured on Wednesday and his military background, the former lieutenant general likely landed votes not only from all 162 military lawmakers but also from more than 40 lawmakers of the main opposition, the Union Solidarity and Development Party.

“It’s announced that U Win Myint, who has secured the most votes, has been elected the president,” Union Parliament Speaker U Mahn Win Khaing Than announced after all the votes were counted.

State Counselor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and some union ministers attended the election as observers.

As part of the process to select a replacement for the 71-year-old U Htin Kyaw, who resigned on Mar. 21, U Win Myint was elected a vice president on Friday, paving the way for a vote for a new president.

U Win Myint submitted his resignation as speaker of the Lower House soon after U Htin Kyaw’s resignation was announced on Wednesday, prompting speculation that he would become Myanmar’s next president.

The 67-year-old is believed to be one of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi’s favorites among fellow senior National League for Democracy (NLD) members. He became Lower House speaker in February 2016, after the NLD won the 2015 general election.

During his time in the Lower House, the former lawyer was known for his strict discipline. He did not tolerate discussions that were off topic during parliamentary meetings. Even union ministers were not free from his stern warnings, not to mention lawmakers, including those from the military.

U Win Myint became an NLD central executive committee member in 2010. In 2012 he also served as secretary of the Lower House’s Rule of Law, Peace and Tranquility Committee — chaired by Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, who was a Lower House lawmaker at the time — after being elected to represent Yangon’s Kawhmu Township.

Born in Danubyu in the Irrawaddy Delta in 1951, U Win Myint studied geology at Yangon University before moving on to study law in the 1980s. He was working as a barrister in 1988 when nationwide pro-democracy protests erupted, leading to the founding of the NLD, which he subsequently joined.

Since joining the party, U Win Myint has won three election races: in the 1990 general election, a 2012 by-election, and the last general election in 2015.

He was elected speaker of the Lower House in 2016.