The party of Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi officially has confirmed that she will not become Burma's next president.
Unofficially, she has vowed to be the de-facto leader by calling the shots from behind the scenes, and party members said that's how things will work in Burma's first democratically elected government in more than a half century.
The party nominated two Suu Kyi loyalists for the post including the front runner Htin Kyaw, a 70-year-old Oxford graduate. The nomination will be followed by a vote among legislators later this month before the new president is installed on 1 April.
For the past several weeks Suu Kyi is believed to have held closed door talks with the powerful military generals to suspend a constitutional clause that bars her from presidency.
The outcome of the negotiations was not known until Thursday when the names of the loyalists were announced, signaling the end, at least for now, of Suu Kyi's longtime ambition to be Burma's leader.
In pictures: General elections in Myanmar
In pictures: General elections in Myanmar
A man holds up a sign stating 'we must win' as crowds gather for the election result announcement in front of the National League for Democracy's headquarters after Myanmar's first free and fair election on November 9, 2015 in Yangon, Myanmar. The elections are Myanmar's first openly contested polls in 25 years, following decades of military rule. Noble laureate Aung San Suu Kyi appeared poised to win power in Myanmar despite her party's growing concerns about cheating in yesterday's historic election
A huge crowd gathers outside the headquarters of National League of Democracy (NLD) party displaying a huge portrait of Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi in Yangon
Supporters of Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi celebrating as they look at the official election results on a giant screen outside the National League of Democracy (NLD) headquarters in Yangon
Supporters of Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi's party pose as they watch the official results on a giant screen outside the party headquarters in Yangon
Myanmar pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi casts her ballot during general elections in Yangon
Visually impaired persons are accompanied by their helpers as nthey cast their votes at a polling station of the Myit Kyee Na township, Kachin State, northern Myanmar
Officials of Union Election Commission sort ballots at a polling station in Mandalay
A Muslim Myanmar voter casts her vote at a polling station in Yangon
People stand in line to get into their polling station in North Okkalapa, a township outside of central Yangon
Kayan woman, from one of Myanmar's ethnic minority groups, shows her ink-stained finger after she voted, in front of a polling station in Panpet village, Demoso township, Kayah state
Suu Kyi did not attend Thursday's high-profile nomination session but posted a message on Facebook to her legions of supporters. She called it a “first step toward realizing the expectations and desires of the people who overwhelmingly supported the National League for Democracy in the elections.”
“It is our will to fulfill the people's desire,” Suu Kyi said in the letter posted on her Facebook page. “We will try as hard as we can to do that.”
The longtime former political prisoner led her National League for Democracy to a landslide victory in the general elections on 8 November, paving the way for the country's first democratically elected government since the military took power in 1962.
Despite her massive popular support, the 70-year-old Suu Kyi is blocked from the presidency because the constitution bars anyone with a foreign spouse or children from holding the executive office. Suu Kyi's two sons are British, as was her late husband. The clause is widely seen as having been written by the military with her in mind.
During Thursday's parliament session, the NLD nominated, from the lower house, Htin Kyaw, a longtime confidante and associate of Suu Kyi. He is widely respected and seen as a frontrunner. His father was a national poet and a National League for Democracy lawmaker from an aborted 1990 election, while his wife is a prominent legislator for the party in the current house. His father-in-law, a former army colonel, was a co-founder of the NLD.
From the upper house, the NLD nominated Henry Van Hti Yu, an ethnic Chin minority and upper house NLD lawmaker.
The outgoing ruling party, the Union Solidarity and Development Party, also nominated two candidates — Sai Mauk Kham, currently a vice president, and former upper house speaker Khin Aung Myint.
The military bloc, which holds a constitutionally mandated 25 percent of seats, is also allowed to nominate one candidate from each house of parliament. The candidates have not yet been announced, one of whom will likely become the country's other vice president.
A vote will be held later this month to elect the president and two vice presidents.
The NLD candidates are assured of a victory given its control of both chambers. One of them will become the president and the other will become a vice president.
Suu Kyi fought for decades to end dictatorship in Myanmar, and remains her party's unquestioned leader. She was awarded the 1991 Nobel prize while under house arrest, where she spent 15 years locked away by a junta that feared her political popularity.
Suu Kyi has made clear that even if she is not president she will be in charge.
Kyaw Thiha, an upper house NLD lawmaker, said Thursday that the new president will take orders from Suu Kyi.
“She cannot become the president, but it doesn't really matter because she will be controlling everything. She will be the one to control us,” Kyaw Thiha said. “It doesn't really matter that she is not becoming the president.”
Political analyst Toe Kyaw Hlaing predicted that the people won't have a problem with that arrangement.
“The public voted for change, so now the public wants a pure civilian president,” he told the Associated Press. “So when the civilian president comes to power, I think the public will support him, and the public may not care whether he is a proxy president or not.”