Yangon : Myanmar’s President Htin Kyaw resigned suddenly on Wednesday leaving the country’s de facto leader   Aung San Suu Kyi without a close confidant and political ally as she faces rising international opprobrium over the Rakhine crisis.

The president is an old school friend of Suu Kyi, serving as her proxy in an office she was barred from occupying according to Myanmar’s military-drafted constitution.  His role was largely ceremonial given Suu Kyi had awarded herself the title State Counsellor and called the shots within her civilian administration.  But he was nonetheless the country’s head of state and a key domestic ally for Suu Kyi within her party.

Speculation had swirled for months about the health of Htin Kyaw, 72, who had recently lost weight and has had heart problems in the past.