With an eye to reform, USDP to hold annual conference in July

YANGON — The Union Solidarity and Development Party is preparing to hold its annual Central Conference in July, the first since the party’s purge of several senior figures in August 2015 and its resounding election defeat last year, USDP officials told Frontier today.

A meeting of the party’s central executive committee, of which former President U Thein Sein remains chair, was held at the USDP’s Nay Pyi Taw headquarters on Thursday morning. Vice-chairman U Htay Oo and secretary Dr Maung Maung Htay were also in attendance, according to those present.

“Some executive committee meetings have started this morning at Nay Pyi Taw,” U Tha Win, the secretary of USDP Yangon region office, told Frontier. “The conference will be held in July.”

The military-backed USDP — many leaders of which served in senior posts under the former military junta — won just 41 of the 498 elected seats in the Union Parliament last year, with most of the party’s high profile figures losing their contests emphatically to candidates from the National League for Democracy. In the 2010 election, the party won 388 seats in a contest widely condemned as rigged.

In August last year, the USDP removed Thura U Shwe Mann from the party chairmanship in a late-night party purge, after months of growing tensions between the former Union Parliament speaker and Thein Sein’s faction of the party.

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Former USDP general secretary U Maung Maung Thein was also removed from his post along with several Shwe Mann supporters, several of whom have now taken parliamentary and ministerial posts under the new NLD-led government.  

When asked for comment on Thursday, Thein Sein acolyte and former presidential advisor Dr Nay Zin Latt said that the conference would help the USDP determine their future direction and organisational structure.

“The USDP is reforming their party,” he told Frontier.

On Wednesday, Frontier reported that the former president and several of his close confidantes would establish a new Thein Sein Centre, expected to be a civil society group focussed on rehabilitating the party ahead of the 2020 election.

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