In Brief

Aung San Suu Kyi picks aide to become president of Myanmar

Nobel laureate fails to overturn military ruling blocking her from becoming leader

Aung San Suu Kyi has nominated her senior aide and former driver to be Myanmar president, ending hopes she could become the country's first democratically elected leader.

Suu Kyi and her National League for Democracy (NLD) party won power in a landslide victory in national elections last November. However, a constitutional clause drawn up by the country's military in 2008 prohibits her from becoming leader as her sons are British citizens.

After weeks of negotiations, the Nobel Peace Prize winner failed to have the clause overruled.

Instead, 69-year-old Htin Kyaw will stand for president in an election he is highly likely to win, as the NLD holds a majority in both the upper and lower houses of parliament.

Kyaw hails from an influential Burmese-Mon political family and currently heads the Suu Kyi charitable foundation, the Daily Telegraph reports.

"He is a genial figure, a writer who uses the pen-name Dala Ban (Mon Warrior) and staunchly loyal," says writer Phillip Sherwell. "During [Suu Kyi's] 15 years of house arrest, he was one of a handful of trusted aides allowed to see her. And during her sporadic releases, he also served as her personal driver."

Loyalty to Suu Kyi appears to be key as she has previously vowed to rule from "above" if she were to win and not be allowed to become the country's leader.

"Kyaw's most important quality may be the ability to take orders," says the BBC's Jonah Fisher. "Aung San Suu Kyi has made it clear that though she does not have the title – she will still be in charge."

In a statement to her supporters, Suu Kyi asked them to "gracefully" support the party's decisions.

"I would like to appeal for people to support and stand by the NLD with wisdom and farsightedness," she said. "The NLD is determined to meet people's expectations and will do its best."

Aung San Suu Kyi's party wins in Myanmar: what next? 

13 November

The National League for Democracy has won a landslide victory in Myanmar, formerly known as Burma, as decades of military-backed rule look set to come to an end.

Aung Sang Suu Kyi's party has won 80 per cent of the seats declared so far – more than the two-thirds it needs to select the president, the BBC says. 

However, the military still holds a quarter of all seats in parliament and observers say it is unclear how Suu Kyi will share power with the generals. She is barred from the presidency under the constitution, as her children are British citizens, but she has vowed to rule from a post "above the president" if her party won.

The 70-year old democracy campaigner has already requested reconciliation talks with the government and the military. They have agreed to a meeting and promised to honour the results of the election.

"But there is a growing sense of wariness in Myanmar," says Reuters correspondent Tara Joseph. "People are finding it hard to believe that the government is simply going to let go of power." Indeed, the last time the NLD won an election in 1990, the military junta refused to recognise the result.

Suu Kyi faces a number of serious challenges and will have to "tread carefully" with the generals who control key government ministries and parts of the economy, warns the Los Angeles Times. These are the same generals who kept her detained under house arrest for 15 years.

Once she has negotiated a handover of power, "her inexperienced and untested party will have to manage the enormous expectations their ebullient campaign has aroused," says the BBC. "The honeymoon will be brief."

Aung San Suu Kyi seeks talks with army after election victory

11 November

Aung San Suu Kyi, the leader of the main opposition party, has won her seat in the historic election held last week in Myanmar, formerly known as Burma.

The official results have not yet been announced, but her opposition party, the National League for Democracy, has won 90 per cent of the seats declared so far.

The ruling military-backed Union Solidarity and Development Party has been left with about 5 per cent of seats with roughly 40 per cent of seats declared, according to the BBC.  

The democracy campaigner and former political prisoner is now seeking talks with the military – which holds a quarter of the seats in parliament – in order to begin discussions on national reconciliation.

"The citizens have expressed their will in the election," Suu Kyi wrote to Commander-in-chief Min Aung Hlaing, President Thein Sein and House Speaker Shwe Mann.

"I would like to invite you to discuss reconciliation next week at a time of your convenience."

The president and the military have insisted that they will respect the outcome of the election, but told Suu Kyi that talks could only take place once the final results were declared.

"The meeting will be the start of what is expected to be months of political negotiations in Myanmar as to how power is shared with the long-standing military elite," says The Guardian.

Despite her party's apparent landslide victory, Suu Kyi, who turned 70 earlier this year, is constitutionally barred from becoming president because her children are foreign nationals.

Despite this, she has made it clear that she will bypass the president to lead the new government. "[It] won't stop me from making all the decisions," she said.

In her first interview since the vote, Suu Kyi told the BBC that polls had been "largely free" though not entirely fair. Hundreds of thousands of people, including the Muslim Rohingya minority, were denied the right to vote.

Early results show that most ethnic minority parties suffered significant defeat, raising fears that their voices will not be represented in government.

"For a country still emerging from six decades of civil war, it is a big concern if the parliament fails to reflect the diversity of the country," said independent political analyst Richard Horsey. 

Aung San Suu Kyi's party on course for 'landslide victory' in Myanmar

09 November

The main opposition party in Myanmar, formerly known as Burma, appears to be on course to beat the military-backed ruling party in the country's first openly contested democratic election in 25 years.

Aung San Suu Kyi, who turned 70 earlier this year, greeted cheering crowds at the National League for Democracy's headquarters in Rangoon after the chairman of the ruling Union Solidarity Development Party conceded defeat in his seat. 

Although preliminary results are only expected later today, the NLD said partial counts showed it had won more than 80 per cent of votes cast in the densely populated central regions, Reuters reports.

Suu Kyi hinted at her party's victory in the historic election, telling supporters in Yangon: "I think you all have the idea of the results." However, the democracy campaigner and former political prisoner is barred from the presidency under constitutional rules that disqualify anyone who has a foreign spouse or children.

International commentators believe that the party appears to be heading for a sweeping victory. "All the indications are that it is looking like a landslide for the NLD," Larry Jagan, a prominent Rangoon-based commentator on Burmese politics told the Daily Telegraph.

Even if the NLD wins the popular vote, the country's first-past-the-post electoral system means they might not win a majority of seats in parliament, The Guardian's Oliver Holmes notes.

"Add to that the fact that a quarter of seats are reserved for the military and Suu Kyi's party has a tough race," he said this morning.

An election official speaking to the AFP news agency put the turnout as high as 80 per cent. Long queues had formed at some polling stations well before dawn. 

"We've been suppressed for a very long time by the government," one voter told the New York Times. "This is our chance for freedom."

Although voting went smoothly, international observers report procedural flaws. "By many measures the election has already been less than free and fair," the newspaper reports.

"Hundreds of thousands of people from the country's Muslim minority were disenfranchised by being taken off the voter rolls," says the newspaper.

Others have expressed concern that the ruling party could cling to power via dirty tricks, electoral shenanigans or the post-vote horse-trading that will lead to the formation of a new government.

There is a precedent for this: in 1990 the NLD won a landslide election victory only for the vote to be annulled by the military government.

In what has been seen as a direct challenge to the power of the generals, Suu Kyi has vowed that if her party wins the election, she will run the country from a position "above the president" after appointing a puppet to the position. 


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