Burmese president Htin Kyaw resigns to 'rest' from duties

Lynn Cook
March 24, 2018

Kyaw became the first President of Myanmar with no ties to the army in more than 50 years.

Burmese President Htin Kyaw yesterday suddenly resigned, leaving Burmese State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi without a close confidant and political ally as she faces rising global opprobrium over the Rakhine crisis.

Myanmar's president and Aung San Suu Kyi's right-hand man, Htin Kyaw, stepped down on Wednesday after two years in the position, his office said.

Htin Kyaw supported Aung San Suu Kyi's pro-democracy movement when military leaders were in power.

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Rumours over Htin Kyaw's deteriorating health had been mounting nearly since he assumed the position and it was reported that he underwent stomach surgery in Singapore in December 2016 and has since been receiving treatment in Bangkok. It follows reports that he suffered ill health that forced him to travel overseas for medical care at least twice in the past year.

By mutual agreement, Htin Kyaw in office acted as a proxy for Ms Suu Kyi, who is also foreign minister.

According to the Constitution, the presidential vacancy must be filled within seven days.

Myint Swe was put forth as a candidate in the 2016 election by the military members of parliament.

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The NLD must explore another possible way forward: for the new president to create a position of greater responsibility, outside of Suu Kyi's control. At the same time, the commander-in-chief of Myanmar's military, Senior Gen. Min Aung Hlaing, whose term expires in 2020, has increasingly portrayed himself as a future leader. The 69-year-old leader from the National League for Democracy (NLD) took over from Thein Sein.

On the pages of the state-run Global New Light of Myanmar - a publication normally replete with the most banal of stories covering the activities of Burma's top officials - Htin Kyaw was last seen in its 14 March issue, when he was photographed meeting with the outgoing Malaysian ambassador.

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