Next week will likely see Myanmar, one of Southeast Asia's investor darlings, choose its first democratically elected president since the military seized power in 1962. But what should be a landmark moment in the country's history has instead been greeted with caution amid concerns over the government's commitment to reforms.
Myanmar's ruling party, the National League for Democracy (NLD) led by revolutionary icon Aung San Suu Kyi, nominated newcomer Htin Kyaw for president on Thursday. Because the NLD enjoys an overwhelming parliamentary majority, Kyaw is widely seen as a shoo-in for the job.
Because of a 2008 rule that disqualifies 70-year Suu Kyi from the presidency due to the fact that her children aren't Myanmar citizens, the pro-democracy figure intends to run the country through a proxy leader following the NLD's landslide victory last year.
Thursday's nomination raises twofold concerns: whether a proxy system can work and if it can help the NLD complete the country's transformation from pariah state to a buoyant emerging market, experts said.
"If elected; Htin Kyaw will have to function in a hybrid civilian-military political system that is still going through growing pains. How that arrangement will play out domestically and internationally is unclear," stated Maitrii V. Aung-Thwin, associate professor at National University of Singapore.
While the idea of a proxy president may be a red flag for some, others note it's the only option available to the NLD.