Burma, after 50 years of military rule, gets an unassuming democrat as president

Htin Kyaw and Aung San Suu Kyi

WaPo –  — For years, Htin Kyaw was content to stay a few steps outside of the spotlight on his close friend Aung San Suu Kyi, Burma’s charismatic pro-democracy leader. He’s been with her from the early days of the movement, through her long periods of house arrest to their party’s jubilant general-election victory in November.

Even as Burma’s parliament on Tuesday elected him head of the first civilian government in the Southeast Asian nation in decades, Htin Kyaw deflected attention back to the woman who has spent a lifetime fighting for democracy.

“This is a victory of the people. This is sister Daw Aung San Suu Kyi’s victory,” Burma’s new president told reporters as he left the assembly hall after the vote.

Since Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy party scored a landslide victory last year, she has made it clear that she will manage Burma’s new government from a perch she calls “above the president.” Nonetheless, colleagues said that the even-keeled Htin Kyaw is a strong choice to manage the perilous transition as the party takes over from the military-backed government next month, even though he has never held elected office.

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Jay is Editor In Chief of The Agonist, veteran and technologist.

1 CommentLeave a comment

  • Burma’s trajectory is one of the few bright spots amongst a newscape where sanity and freedom is generally on the retreat. (Although I shouldn’t complain, after all we are doing just fine up here in Canada).

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