Drama at USDP headquarters linked to presidential race

NAY PYI TAW — Soldiers and police were surrounding the Union Solidarity and Development Party’s Nay Pyi Taw headquarters on August 13 after a night of drama and confusion involving senior members of the ruling party.

The developments coincided with an emergency meeting attended by senior members of the USDP, including President U Thein Sein, but not the party chairman and parliament speaker, Thura U Shwe Mann. Witnesses told Frontier those at the meeting included former junta leader, retired Senior General Than Shwe, but this could not be independently confirmed.

The deputy head of the party, U Htay Oo, and its secretary-general, U Maung Maung Thein, were reported to have been taken under guard from their homes to USDP headquarters after the meeting began. However, it was not clear if they had participated in the meeting, which was said to have ended about 3:00am.

Political analysts have linked the night of drama to rivalry between President U Thein Sein and his successor as USDP chairman, Thura U Shwe Mann, to secure the party’s nomination for the presidency.

As party chairman Thura U Shwe Mann controls 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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