Parliamentary Body Green-Lights Presidential Nominees

By San Yamin Aung 14 March 2016

RANGOON — Burma’s Union Parliament announced on Monday that the two National League for Democracy (NLD) presidential nominees as well as one selected by military representatives passed a parliamentary scrutinizing body’s vetting process, qualifying all three to vie for Burma’s highest civilian post.

Htin Kyaw, an executive committee member of an Aung San Suu Kyi-led foundation, and ethnic Chin lawmaker Henry Van Thio were selected on March 10 as the NLD’s nominees. Military representatives from the Upper and Lower houses announced their nomination of Myint Swe, a former lieutenant-general and outgoing Rangoon chief minister, a day later.

Union Parliament Speaker Mahn Win Khaing presented the seven-member presidential scrutinizing body’s findings during a parliamentary session on Monday. The body is led by the Lower House and Upper House speakers and their deputies, two NLD lawmakers—Myo Aung from the Lower House and Ba Myo Thein from the Upper House—and a military representative.

Maj-Gen Than Soe, the military lawmaker on the parliamentary body, objected to the nomination of Henry Van Thio, saying that he and his family had stayed in a foreign country for six years and suggesting that the body ask a constitutional tribunal whether he was in violation of the presidential criteria.

Since the other six members of the body approved Henry Van Thio, however, it was decided that he met the presidential qualifications.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, Than Soe also suggested additional scrutiny of Htin Kyaw because he is not an elected lawmaker. Again, however, the body decided that Htin Kyaw met the necessary qualifications.

While there were some disagreements over Myint Swe’s ability to stand for the presidency, the body ultimately approved him. Myint Swe was tipped to be selected as vice president in 2012 but was passed over because one of his sons was an Australian national. Since then, however, his son would appear to have become a Burmese citizen, removing an obstacle to his father’s nomination.

The Union Parliament will put the three nominees to a vote on Tuesday, with the one who receives the most votes becoming president and the other two vice presidents. Htin Kyaw, a close confidante to NLD chairwoman Suu Kyi, is expected to win the vote.