Htin Kyaw, 70, a longtime confidant of Suu Kyi, is expected to become the country's first democratically elected leader after more than half a century of military rule.

The new President takes office on April 1, following today's vote by 652 members of parliament. Five lawmakers were absent from the 657-seat bicameral legislature.

Htin Kyaw is among three final candidates whose names appeared on the ballot.

Given the lawmakers lack of experience with voting, the parliament speaker opened the session by explaining how to vote.

Suu Kyi led her National League for Democracy party to a sweeping victory in Nov. 8 elections, a reflection of the widespread public support she earned during her decades-long struggle for democracy in Myanmar which was ruled for half a century by a military junta.

The Nobel laureate and longtime political prisoner is the party's unquestionable leader but is blocked from becoming president because of a constitutional clause that excludes anyone with a foreign spouse or children.

Myanmar's electoral system requires that the president be chosen from candidates put forward by each of the two houses of parliament, and a third nominee from the military, which retains a quarter of the legislative seats.

Myint Swe is seen as a close ally of former junta leader Than Shwe and remains on a US State Department blacklist that bars American companies from doing business with several tycoons and senior military figures connected with the former junta.

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