Aung San Suu Kyi's party today nominated her close aide, U Htin Kyaw, to be Myanmar's next president as the Nobel laureate looks to rule her homeland through a trusted proxy.
Suu Kyi has vowed to rule "above" the president, despite being barred from top office by the army-scripted constitution, as she strives to fulfil the huge mandate delivered by millions of Myanmar voters in her National League for Democracy's landslide election victory in November.
"I would like to propose U Htin Kyaw, from the NLD," said Khin San Hlaing, a lower house MP for Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy, which will also nominate another candidate from the upper house.
The selection of Htin Kyaw, a genial 69-year-old who went to school with Suu Kyi and is Executive Director of her Daw Khin Kyi foundation comes after months of fevered speculation.
Even her own MPs were kept in the dark about the deliberations, with the party fearful of upsetting a delicate political transition in a nation where the military still casts a long shadow.
But the process of picking a leader to replace outgoing President Thein Sein later this month is not yet over.
Lawmakers from the lower and upper houses of parliament will elect one candidate each, while the military also puts forward their own nominee. The former ruling party USDP has also nominated its current Vice President Dr Sai Mauk Kham as a potential nominee. However, he was not present at the parliament
Unelected soldiers still make up a quarter of Myanmar's legislature, but the NLD enjoys a comfortable parliamentary majority thanks to the historic November polls, the freest in generations.
(Additional reporting AFP)