Drama at ruling party HQ linked to race for presidency

Security forces were surrounding the Union Solidarity and Development Party headquarters in Nay Pyi Taw on August 13 amid the removal of Thura U Shwe Mann as party chairman.

Reports of the move came as senior party members, including President U Thein Sein, were attending a meeting from which Thura U Shwe Mann was absent.

The USDP’s former deputy chair, U Htay Oo, a supporter of U Thein Sein, has been appointed acting chairman and was chairing the meeting, party sources have told Frontier.

They also said U Tin Naing Thein, another U Thein Sein loyalist, had replaced U Maung Maung Thein as the party’s secretary-general.

The security forces were reported to have surrounded USDP headquarters the previous evening and were allowing no one to enter or leave.

Political analysts have linked the situation to the rivalry between U Thein Sein and Thura U Shwe Mann, who is also parliamentary speaker, for the party’s nomination to contest the presidency. The president will be chosen from among three vice-presidential candidates at a joint sitting of parliament after the election.

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As party chairman Thura U Shwe Mann had controlled the selection of USDP election candidates.

A news conference in Nay Pyi Taw on August 12 to unveil the USDP’s election candidates was told that President U Thein Sein would not be standing for the party on November 8.

However, U Thein Sein could still seek a second term, which he has not ruled out, because presidential candidates do not need to be members of parliament.

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