Suu Kyi will not become Myanmar’s next president

Aung San Suu Kyi arrives for a party meeting yesterday. Picture: AFP/Getty Images
Aung San Suu Kyi arrives for a party meeting yesterday. Picture: AFP/Getty Images
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The party of Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi has confirmed she will not become Burma’s next president.

Unofficially, she has vowed to be the de facto leader by calling the shots from behind the scenes, and party members said yesterday that’s how things will work in Burma’s first democratically elected government in more than a half century.

The party nominated two Suu Kyi loyalists for the post including the front-runner Htin Kyaw, a 70-year-old Oxford graduate. The nomination will be followed by a vote in parliament later this month before the new president is installed on 1 April.

“I’m very happy and very pleased and I believe he [Htin Kyaw] will work together with Aung San Suu Kyi for the ­benefit of the people,” said Khin Su Su Kyi, an NLD parliamentarian.

For the past several weeks Ms Suu Kyi is believed to have held closed-door talks with the powerful military generals to suspend a constitutional clause that bars her from presidency in Burma, also known as Myanmar.

The outcome of the negotiations was not known until yesterday when the names of the loyalists were announced, signalling the end, at least for now, of Ms Suu Kyi’s long-time ambition to become president.

She did not attend yesterday’s high-profile nomination session but posted a letter on Facebook to her supporters. She called it a “first step toward realising the expectations and desires of the people who overwhelmingly supported the National League for Democracy in the elections.”

“It is our will to fulfil the ­people’s desire,” she said. “We will try as hard as we can to do that.”

The former political prisoner led her National League for Democracy to a landslide victory in November elections, paving the way for the country’s first democratically elected government since the military took power in 1962.

Despite her massive popular support, the 70-year-old is blocked from the presidency because the constitution bars anyone with a foreign spouse or children from holding the executive office. Her two sons are British, as was her late husband.

The clause is widely seen as having been written by the military with her in mind.

During yesterday’s parliament session, the NLD nominated, from the lower house, Htin Kyaw, a long-time confidant and associate of Suu Kyi. He is widely respected and seen as a front-runner.

“I think he is the best one for the country. He has experience, he’s fair and he’s a real gentleman so our country’s future will be very good,” said Kyaw Win Maung, an NLD parliamentarian.