Myanmar swears in first elected civilian president

Myanmar swears in first elected civilian president


Myanmar’s new president has been sworn in, the first elected civilian leader in more than 50 years.Htin Kyaw from the National League for Democracy (NLD) takes over from Thein Sein, who introduced wide-ranging reforms during his five years in power.Although NLD leader Aung San Suu Kyi is barred from the presidency, she has said she will rule by proxy.The handover completes the transition that began after the NLD won a landslide win in elections in November.Htin Kyaw, 69, said he would be “faithful to the people” of Myanmar, as he took the oath of office in a joint session of parliament in the capital Nay Pyi Taw, according to AFP news agency.Vice-presidents Henry Van Thio and Myint Swe, who lost to Htin Kyaw in the presidential vote earlier this month, were also sworn in, as were new cabinet ministers.Most of the ministers belong to the NLD. The list includes Ms Suu Kyi who will be in charge of foreign affairs, the president’s office, education, energy and electric power.

But the military is appointing its own nominees for three key ministries – defence, home affairs and border affairs.As party leader, Ms Suu Kyi has said she will act “above the president”.Despite her popularity and prominence, she was barred from becoming president under the military-backed constitution because her two sons are British.The constitution does not allow anyone whose family members have another nationality from being president.Last year, the NLD won 80% of contested seats in a historic election that was considered mostly free and fair and now dominates parliament.However, the military will still play a significant role going forward.Besides retaining control of key security ministries, it is also guaranteed to have 25% of parliamentary seats – thus retaining the power to veto any changes to the constitution, as that would require more than 75% of votes. Outgoing President Thein Sein, who led a quasi-civilian government from 2011 ending decades of military rule, will hand over power to Htin Kyaw, who assumes office on 1 April.Thein Sein is credited with starting the reform process in Myanmar, also known as Burma.


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