Vastavam web: Myanmar’s parliament today elected a staunch ally of Aung San Suu Kyi as the country’s new president, allowing her to maintain a tight grip on top-level decision-making.Win Myint, 66, had been tipped for the role after former president Htin Kyaw suddenly stepped down last week, citing the need for rest.That makes it crucial for her to have a compliant friend as president as she manages an often fraught power-sharing arrangement with the still powerful military, which ruled the country for almost half a century.
“I will do my best to carry out my duties for the people,” Win Myint told reporters as he left parliament after the vote.The former lawyer hails from Suu Kyi’s inner circle — the pair fought side-by-side during the 1988 democracy movement that was violently quashed by the junta and saw Win Myint, alongside many others, being taken political prisoner.
As Myanmar emerged from outright military rule, Win Myint won his seat in 2012 by-elections, the same vote that elevated Suu Kyi to parliament after a combined 15 years of house arrest.She is still widely regarded as a heroine in Myanmar even though her reputation lies shattered globally for failing to speak up on behalf of the country’s Rohingya Muslim community.Her supporters say she has her hands tied by the military, which retains control over three key ministries — home affairs, borders and defence — and is guaranteed a quarter of the parliamentary seats.
Supreme Court advocate Khin Maung Zaw worked with Win Myint in recent years and said: “He is an honest person, he is quite hard-working, but sometimes he is stern.” As speaker he was known for his passion for protocol, famously dressing down members of parliament for failing to don the correct clothing.Activists have been frustrated at his reluctance to abolish a controversial online defamation law that has seen dozens of people face charges for Facebook posts critical of the government or military.
Observers say his appointment is unlikely to change politics much although he could assume some duties from Suu Kyi, who is notoriously unwilling to delegate.