Myanmar President, Close Suu Kyi Friend, Says He’s Retiring


In this Nov. 13, 2010, photo, Myanmar's pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi, center, speaks with aide Htin Kyaw, left, as she addresses her supporters from the front gates of her home after her release from house arrest in Yangon, Myanmar.  Photo: Gemunu Amarasinghe / Associated Press.

YANGON — Myanmar’s president, a close friend of the country’s top leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, announced Wednesday that he is stepping down.

A statement posted on the Myanmar President Office’s Facebook page said that 71-year-old President Htin Kyaw was retiring from his duties. The statement said he wished to take a rest, and follows reports that he suffered ill health that forced him to take at least two trips abroad for medical care in the past year.

The statement said his post would be filled within seven working days, in line with the constitution.

Htin Kyaw became president in March 2016. He was Myanmar’s first elected civilian president and head of its first government to be elected in free and fair polls since a 1962 military coup.

After Htin Kyaw became president, Suu Kyi became Myanmar’s de facto leader when she was named state councilor, a position created for the country’s once-leading voice for democracy since she is constitutionally banned from the presidency. By mutual agreement, Htin Kyaw, acted as a proxy for Suu Kyi, who is also foreign minister.

Myanmar has two vice presidents, and according to its constitution, one of them, Myint Swe, will serve as acting president. He was nominated for vice president by the military, which enjoys special privileges over the government.

When a vote is taken for a new president by both houses of parliament, the choice will be among Myint Swe, the other vice president, Henry Van Thio, who was elected by the upper house of parliament, and a third candidate to be put forward by the lower house, which had nominated Htin Kyaw.