Aung San Suu Kyi's party Thursday (Mar 10) nominated her former driver and close aide to be Myanmar's next president, as the Nobel laureate looks to rule her former junta-run 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 now helps run her charitable 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.
Former ruling party USDP nominated its current Vice President Dr Sai Mauk Kham as potential nominee. However, he was not present at the parliament.
The upper house of Myanmar's parliament nominated its former speaker Khin Aung Myint.
NLD party leader Suu Kyi is barred from top political office by a military-drafted constitution.
Speculation on the NLD presidential nominee has ranged from Suu Kyi's personal physician to her chief-of-staff. In recent days, it has focused on close friend Htin Kyaw.
He runs the Daw Khin Kyi Foundation, a charity to assist people in Myanmar's poorest areas founded by Suu Kyi and named after her mother.
But she has vowed to rule "above" the next leader of Myanmar, buoyed by a roaring election victory that gave her party a mandate to comfortably form the country's first popular government in decades.
Three presidential candidates will be nominated - one by the lower house, one by the upper house, and one by the military bloc in parliament. The constitution gives the armed forces a quarter of seats in both houses.
Because the NLD has a comfortable majority in both chambers it will effectively control two of the nominations, with the party's second pick widely expected to be a representative of one of Myanmar's ethnic minorities.
The two losing nominees become vice presidents, meaning that a nominee from an ethnic party would be proposed with that role in mind in line with Suu Kyi's goal of forming a government for national reconciliation.
Lawmakers filed into both houses of parliament early Thursday, with the burnt orange jackets of NLD legislators' the dominant color, where they will nominate candidates for the presidency.
"It's a historic moment for our country," said Kyaw Min, a NLD lawmaker in the lower house. "I can't find words to describe how I feel now. I am excited. We can see our future very clearly now but our excitement shouldn't blind us."
Suu Kyi, 70, has not outlined what her precise role will be or how she will be able to play puppet-master to a president.
Some have suggested she could mimic India's Sonia Gandhi, who wielded huge influence over her Congress party's administrations despite having no official government role.
There has also been speculation that she could take the role of foreign minister, which would give her a cabinet post as well as a seat at the country's influential military dominated security council.
But under Myanmar's complex political system, this would mean ceding her party role.