Ruling party leader ousted in Myanmar

Myanmar's ruling party chairman removed amid tensions within military-based governing party and president

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

The Union Solidarity and Development Party head office in Naypyitaw, Myanmar

Myanmar's security forces seized control of the ruling party headquarters on Thursday, and powerful ruling party chief Shwe Mann, who is also the parliament speaker, has reportedly been ousted from his post, amid rifts between party members and tension with President Thein Sein ahead of upcoming general elections.

The headquarters of the ruling Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) in the capital, Naypyitaw, was surrounded by the security forces after an internal meeting to pick candidates for November 8 election.

Rift widen within the party after only 59 of 159 senior officers who retired from the military were selected to run in the election, angering officers and politicians want to preserve the military's sway.

"Shwe Mann isn't the chairman of the party anymore," a USDP member of parliament told Reuters.

"He's in good health and at home now."

His home security officer was questioned by the chief of police, AP reported, adding party members are prevented from leaving the building by soldiers.

Htay Oo, vice chairman and an ally of Thein Sein, has been replaced Mann as the new party head.

Tension has been steadily growing between Thein Sein and Shwe Mann after they both expressed their interest in leading the country and disagreements over the selection of candidates.

Shwe Mann is known as close to Nobel laureate and opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi and he supports limited role for military in politics. His ouster is seen as the latest episode of a discord within the party about the role of the military.

Myanmar's military handed power to a semi-civilian government in 2011 but retains an effective veto over the political system.

Myanmar's parliament rejected the proposed changes to the 2008 constitution that will allow Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi become president in June, as well as curbing the military's veto power on key decisions.

Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy (NLD) won the last free election in 1990 but the result ignored by the junta which ruled Myanmar for 49 years.

Based on the country’s current constitution, Myanmar’s military has 25 permanent seats in parliament which gives it the power to block any constitutional changes.

TRTWorld and agencies