The Union Parliament on Tuesday elected the country’s new president, U Htin Kyaw, an ethnically Mon and Bamar civilian and longtime confidante to Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, the chair of the National League for Democracy. The president-elect, 69, never served in the military and has become the first civilian to lead the country in more than 50 years.
The NLD nominee received 360 parliamentary votes out of the 652 cast, followed by the army’s nominee, U Myint Swe, with 213 votes and the NLD’s second nominee, U Henry Van Thio, who got 79 votes. U Htin Kyaw takes office on April 1.
In an interview with MNA yesterday, three newly elected Mon State Hluttaw representatives from the Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP), National League for Democracy (NLD), and Mon National Party (MNP) voiced their thoughts about the much-anticipated presidential selection.
Min Aung Mon, State Hluttaw Representative, USDP
“The new president is Mon and because he has good ideas, it is better to have him serve as president in comparison to others. I am very proud that he has become president. It is good to work with him regarding ethnic issues and national issues. I support him as president.”
Min Aung Mon added that the incoming president’s ethnic minority heritage, stemming from the bloodline of [one of] his parents, works to his advantage in ongoing peace talks with ethnic armed groups.
U Htun Htay, State Hluttaw Representative, NLD
“This all happened in accordance with the constitution. The NLD has the largest number of members in the Hluttaw. I am also very glad, like other people across Burma, that the elected president is from the NLD as we hoped. This is a ‘union’ country, so it would be very good for him to acknowledge himself as Mon. It is also very encouraging since the president has Mon blood and this is good for Mon State, too.”
Dr. Min Kyi Win, State Hluttaw Representative, MNP
“There are some differences between the last president and this new president. We can say that this president is from the people and the forces of democracy.”
Dr. Min Kyi Win went on to say that U Htin Kyaw’s duties as president are dedicated to the entire nation’s population, not only Mon people. However, he said he was proud that, for the first time, the president-elect shares his Mon ethnicity.