YANGON — Myanmar’s Lower House elected its former speaker, U Win Myint of the ruling National League for Democracy (NLD), as vice president on Friday, paving the way for a vote on the country’s next president following U Htin Kyaw’s sudden resignation from the post on Wednesday.
Parliament will elect a new head of state from among Myanmar’s three vice presidents next week.
Constitutionally, Myanmar needs to have three vice presidents elected by the Lower House, the Upper House, and appointed military lawmakers from both chambers.
U Myint Swe, a former lieutenant general, has been Acting President since U Htin Kyaw’s departure. He was elected vice president by military lawmakers in March 2016, when the NLD came to power. His official position is vice president 1.
U Henry Van Thio is vice president 2, elected by the Upper House at the same time that U Htin Kyaw was elected president by the Lower House.
U Htin Kyaw was elected president of Myanmar by the Presidential Electoral College, a body made up of lawmakers from both chambers and the military, on March 15, 2016.
On Friday morning, Lower House members nominated two candidates for vice president — U Win Myint and U Thaung Aye of the opposition Union Solidarity and Development Party.
During a secret ballot in the afternoon, U Win Myint was voted in with 273 votes to U Thaung Aye’s 27.
U Win Myint had submitted his resignation as speaker soon after U Htin Kyaw’s resignation was announced on Wednesday, prompting speculation that he would become Myanmar’s next president.
If the speculation proves true, U Win Myint, a senior NLD member, will be Myanmar’s 10th president since the country’s independence in 1948.
The 67-year-old is believed to be one of State Counselor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi’s favorites among fellow senior NLD members. He became the 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.