Myanmar finalises historic presidential election after decades of dictatorship

| Monday, March 14, 2016 - 15:15
First Published |
Myanmar parliament

Myanmar parliament has finalised preparations for this week's election | Photo: IANS

Nay Pyi Taw: The Myanmar parliament on Monday finalised preparations for this week's election of the country's next president and vice presidents -- the first candidates nominated democratically following decades of dictatorship in the country.

A committee of the bicameral legislature, formed after democratic elections of November 8 last year, plans to issue later on Monday a report on the suitability of the three candidates vying for the top executive positions in the country, reported the Myanmar Times.

The National League for Democracy, led by Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, wrested majority in both houses of parliament enabling them to present last week two of the three presidential candidates, with a third being nominated by the army.

Htin Kyaw, the NLD nominee from the lower house, is being touted as the next president in the voting scheduled for Tuesday, EFE news reported.

(Also Read: Myanmar ruling party names Htin Kyaw as presidential candidate)

The other two nominees are Henry Van Thio of the NLD, who has been proposed by the upper house, and Lieutenant General Mying Swe, nominated by the army.

Suu Kyi, who was awarded the Nobel Peace prize in 1991, explained last week that she nominated Kyaw for his loyalty, training and experience, adding that the appointment of Thio, who belongs to the Shan ethnic minority, was in the interest of national reconciliation.

A parliamentary committee will assess whether the candidates meet the requirements set by the Constitution, including proof of their long residence in the country, knowledge of military affairs and no foreign relatives.

Suu Kyi is not eligible to run for president as she married a British professor Michael Aris, who died in 1999, and has two sons, Alexander and Kim, both British passport holders.

The last Burmese military junta ceded power in 2011 to a like-minded government, led by Thein Sein, a former general of the old regime who initiated a series of political and economic reforms that led to the lifting of sanctions by the European Union and the US in 2011.

The November elections were the first democratic polls after decades of military dictatorship (1962-2011).

However, the Constitution, approved in 2008, accords the military certain privileges, including 25 percent reservation in parliament and priority in the selection of the Armed Forces' head and defence and interior ministers.

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