Burma’s generations-long transition to democratic rule reached its apex on Tuesday after Htin Kyaw was elected president by the two houses of parliament. The 70-year-old leader was nominated to serve by his party, the National League for Democracy, after a constitutional provision by the ruling military junta barred Aung San Suu Kyi, the democracy advocate and Nobel Peace laureate, from running for office.
Kyaw, the first civilian president in 54 years, made it clear he would serve as a proxy for Suu Kyi and emphasized that after his win.“Victory!” he declared on Tuesday. “This is sister Aung San Suu Kyi’s victory. Thank you.”
Kyaw, the son of Min Thu Wun, a respected poet, is a childhood friend of Suu Kyi, who went to school with her. He later won a scholarship to study in the U.K.
But it’s as a loyal aide to Suu Kyi that Kyaw is best known. He ran the Daw Khin Kyi Foundation, a charity named for her late mother, and, as the BBC reported, “has been frequently seen at the NLD leader’s side, serving as her driver from time to time.”