An important step: White House hails election of Myanmar's new president

Washington: President Barack Obama's White House on Tuesday welcomed Htin Kyaw's election as Myanmar's first civilian president in half a century, saying it was "an important step" in the country's democratization.

Senior Obama advisor Ben Rhodes hailed the move and noted that the 69-year-old was a "close associate" of Aung San Suu Kyi.

Htin Kyaw. AFP

Htin Kyaw. AFP

Suu Kyi, a popular Nobel laureate, is herself barred from becoming president by the military drafted constitution. She is widely expected to wield power behind in an unofficial capacity.

Rhodes, who has led rapprochement with Myanmar, said Htin Kyaw's appointment was "an important step forward in Burma's democratic transition."

"We look forward to working with his govt," he wrote on Twitter.

Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy won a thumping victory at elections in November, allowing her party to dominate Myanmar's two legislative houses.

But the military remains a powerful force and has refused to change a clause in the junta-era constitution which bars her from the presidency.

The veteran activist has instead vowed to rule "above" the next leader. Her choice of Htin Kyaw is seen as a testament to her absolute faith in his loyalty.

Htin Kyaw will be sworn in on 30 March, replacing incumbent Thein Sein.

It will be the first time Myanmar has had a civilian president since 1962, when the military seized power.

AFP


Updated Date: Mar 15, 2016 22:34 PM

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