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Aung San Suu Kyi Will Not Be Myanmar's Next President

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

In Myanmar, the famed opposition leader and Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi is a hero to many people. She was held under house arrest for years, but fought on. Four months ago, her party won a landslide election victory, and now the party has nominated two candidates for president. Her supporters wish she would take the job herself. Here's NPR's Anthony Kuhn.

ANTHONY KUHN, BYLINE: The front runner of the two candidates is 70-year-old Htin Kyaw. He's a close ally of Suu Kyi's and, like her, an Oxford graduate and former political prisoner. Sean Turnell, a Myanmar expert at Macquarie University in Sydney, Australia, describes Htin Kyaw as calm and urbane.

SEAN TURNELL: I think he's an excellent choice. He's one of those people who basically just has the air of a president, and I think he would actually fulfill that role for almost any country.

KUHN: Speaking ahead of the November elections, Aung San Suu Kyi made it clear that the next president will basically be her proxy.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

AUNG SAN SUU KYI: I will be above the president. It's a very simple message.

KUHN: Myanmar's military-drafted constitution bars her from being president because her sons are foreign citizens. Turnell says Suu Kyi will essentially be sharing power with the military.

TURNELL: Burma's not free yet. It's in a process of moving towards something better, but it's not in that place of being a functioning democracy yet.

KUHN: Myanmar's parliament will vote on the candidates sometime this month, and the winner will take office on April 1. Anthony Kuhn, NPR News, Beijing. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Anthony Kuhn is NPR's correspondent based in Seoul, South Korea, reporting on the Korean Peninsula, Japan, and the great diversity of Asia's countries and cultures. Before moving to Seoul in 2018, he traveled to the region to cover major stories including the North Korean nuclear crisis and the Fukushima earthquake and nuclear disaster.

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