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Myanmar swears in first elected civilian president

NAYPYITAW, Myanmar, March 30 (UPI) — Myanmar on Wednesday swore in its first elected civilian president after decades of military rule, completing a governmental transition after elections in November.

Opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi‘s National League for Democracy party won the Nov. 8 parliamentary elections in a landslide. Although Suu Kyi is the NLD’s leader, she is constitutionally barred from serving as president.

Htin Kyaw was sworn in as the president of Myanmar, replacing Thein Sein who served for five years and who introduced economic and political reforms. Thein Sein also worked to increase peace in the conflict-ridden country.

Htin Kyaw, 69, is a close aide to Suu Kyi. During a speech to Parliament, Htin Kyaw said Myanmar’s Constitution should comply with modern democratic values — a reference to an NLD campaign promise to change the Constitution. He also called for a nationwide ceasefire, as the government has been involved in armed conflicts with ethnic groups for decades.

He made it clear that he would take orders from Nobel Peace Prize laureate Suu Kyi, who previously said she would rule by proxy.

“I’m going to be above the president,” Suu Kyi said in November. “I have already made plans.”

Suu Kyi, 70, whose children are British, is banned from Myanmar’s presidency as the Constitution prohibits anyone with foreign offspring from the post.

Millions voted in Myanmar’s first openly contested national election in 25 years. There are about 30 million eligible voters in Myanmar’s election out of an overall population of nearly 54 million. Voter turnout was about 80 percent.

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