Asia-Pacific

Aung San Suu Kyi loyalist elected new Myanmar president

Myanmar has elected Win Myint, a loyalist of leader Aung San Suu Kyi, as its new president. (AAP)

Myanmar's parliament has elected veteran legislator and former political prisoner Win Myint as the country's new president.

Myanmar's parliament has elected Win Myint, a loyalist of Aung San Suu Kyi, as the country's new president.

The vote comes as Suu Kyi's civilian government has struggled to implement peace and national reconciliation, with the powerful military still embroiled in combat with ethnic rebels and under heavy international criticism for its brutal counterinsurgency campaign against the Muslim Rohingya minority.

Myanmar's military ruled the country for a half-century during which it was accused of widespread abuses before partially handing power to a civilian government in 2016. It is still in charge of security matters and still faces accusations of rights abuses.

Win Myint (left) with Myanmar's leader, Aung San Suu Kyi.
Win Myint (left) with Myanmar's leader, Aung San Suu Kyi.
AP

Like his predecessor Htin Kyaw, who retired last week because of ill health, Win Myint is a Suu Kyi loyalist of many years and a stalwart member of her National League for Democracy.

The affiliation earned him a brief spell as a political prisoner more than two decades ago under the previous military government.

When Suu Kyi's government was installed in 2016, she explained that she would be "above the president," a situation amenable to both the president and the public.

The job of state counsellor was created especially for Suu Kyi because she is constitutionally banned from the presidency.

A clause in the 2008 military-drafted constitution bars anyone with a foreign spouse or child from holding the job. It clearly targeted Suu Kyi, whose two sons are British, as was her late husband.

Win Myint received 403 votes of the combined houses against 211 for Myint Swe, the military's nominee, and 18 for Vice President Henry Van Tio.

Win Myint, 66, resigned as speaker of the lower house last week.

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