By NYAN HLAING LYNN | FRONTIER
NAY PYI TAW — The battle for control of the Union Solidarity and Development Party is rumbling on. Sacked members loyal to Thura U Shwe Mann have accused former president U Thein Sein’s faction of secretly planning a party congress to formalise their ouster.
They also insist that current central executive committee (CEC) is “illegal”, as its formation following an internal coup last August broke party rules.
“We want USDP to be a prestigious party which obeys its own rules,” U Win Than said at a press conference on May 4.
“The party’s rules state that the highest decision-maker is the party congress. So if they want to dismiss us, they should do it based on the decision of an emergency party congress, attended by all the members,” he said.
Another sacked USDP member, U Zaw Myint Pe, said the current faction in charge of the party is preparing to hold a party congress without them. This would be another breach of party rules, he said.
“The term of the CEC and central committee members runs to October 2017,” he said.
Seventeen USDP members, including former parliament speaker Thura U Shwe Mann, were sacked from the party on April 22. While there official termination cited no reason for the decision, a senior USDP official told the media they had breached party rules.
The expulsion reflected the growing internal turmoil in the USDP and the poisonous rivalry between the leaders of the two main factions, U Thein Sein and Thura U Shwe Mann.
Most of those fired already been removed from the party’s CEC last August, when U Thein Sein sent police to the party’s headquarters to snatch back control from Thura U Shwe Mann, who was then serving as acting chair.
U Thein Sein took the decision after Thura U Shwe Mann refused to place the president’s allies in “safe” seats for the election. The speaker also blocked scores of military officers from running as USDP candidates.
“This [sacking] is a consequence of the problems within the USDP following the forceful removal of party members who had been elected by the party congress, held on 12 August 2015,” said U Zaw Myint Pe. “The forceful removal was made by a group who are close to U Thein Sein.”
In response to their sacking, the 17 former USDP members sent a petition to the USDP headquarters on April 29 demanding an emergency conference be held with the CEC and CC elected at the party’s 2012 congress.
The petition carried the signatures of 136 CEC and CC members.
However, the current UDSP leadership responded that petition was no longer valid, as the signatures were gathered in late January, just before the end of the last parliament.
But at the May 4 press conference, the ex-USDP members said the signatories had been aware of the purpose of the petition. They said they had delayed submission in order not to disturb the transition from the U Thein Sein government to U Htin Kyaw’s administration.
Asked what they would do if the party leadership continues to ignore their demands, U Zaw Myint Pe said the sacked members would continue their fight “to the end, according to the party rules”.
The USDP could not be reached for comment.