Naypyidaw, Myanmar (BBN)-Myanmar’s parliament has begun electing a new president, who is almost certain to be the first civilian to lead the country in more than 50 years.
They are choosing between three candidates put forward by the upper and lower houses and the military, reports BBC.
The winner is widely expected to be Htin Kyaw, a close ally of Aung San Suu Kyi whose National League for Democracy (NLD) party swept to victory in historic elections in November.
Suu Kyi is barred from the post.
A clause in the constitution widely seen as being tailored against her says anyone whose children have another nationality cannot become president.
Her children hold British passports.
Despite weeks of negotiation, the NLD were unable to persuade the military of Myanmar – also known as Burma – to remove or suspend the clause to allow Suu Kyi to take office.
But she has always said that she would run the country anyway, with the president effectively acting as a proxy.
Htin Kyaw – NLD, nominated by Lower House of parliament. A 70-year-old writer and close friend of Aung San Suu Kyi. Not an elected MP.
Henry Van Thio – NLD, nominated by Upper House of parliament. From the Chin ethnic minority and another close ally of Suu Kyi.
Myint Swe – nominated by the army, 64. A retired general seen as close to former military leader Than Shwe.
The NLD has a huge majority in both houses of parliament, despite the military’s automatic 25 per cent of seats, so the candidate it backs is all but guaranteed to win.
“We have planned to vote for Htin Kyaw and practised not to make any mistake,” an NLD MP told AFP news agency on Monday.
The runners-up will become vice-presidents.
The NLD will then begin the process of forming a government before taking office in a few weeks’ time.
The new president replaces Thein Sein who will step down at the end of the month after five years of army-backed rule.
Htin Kyaw, 70, is Ms Suu Kyi’s close aide.
He is said to be a quietly spoken man who attended university in the UK. He has a reputation for honesty and loyalty, and has kept a low profile.
His father, the writer and poet Min Thu Wun, won a seat for the party at the 1990 election.
His wife, Su Su Lwin, is the daughter of an NLD founder, as well as being a sitting MP, and a prominent party member.
He has played a senior role at the Daw Khin Kyi Foundation, the charity founded in honour of Suu Kyi’s late mother, and has been frequently seen at the NLD leader’s side, serving as her driver from time to time.