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Politics

Thein Sein Still a USDP Leader, May Be Party’s 2015 Presidential Pick: Lawmaker

President Thein Sein will still play a leadership role within the ruling party despite having resigned the party chairmanship this week, a party leader says.


Burma’s President Thein Sein will continue to play a leadership role within the nation’s ruling Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) and may run for re-election to the presidency despite having resigned his party post this week, according to a party leader.

Win Oo, who is a member of the Lower House of Parliament and a USDP leader, told The Irrawaddy on Friday that “President Thein Sein’s handover of power was not announced officially at the youth meeting hosted in Naypyidaw recently, but it has been communicated to executive party members.”

A party publication, the Union Daily, announced on Thursday that Thein Sein would be stepping down.

But the president’s resignation did not disqualify him from consideration as the party mulls its presidential candidate ahead of the 2015 election, Win Oo said.

“President Thein Sein could run for re-election as he is still a leader from our party. Our party’s leadership will have a meeting before it has an election in three months [to decide the party’s 2015 nominee],” Win Oo said.

Thein Sein resigned his post to comply with Burma’s Constitution, which states that the nation’s president cannot also be a participant in party activities. He has previously indicated that he would not seek re-election in 2015.

The USDP chairmanship will go to Shwe Mann, the current deputy party chairman and Lower House speaker.

The change in leadership at USDP is not meant to fundamentally alter the party’s organizational structure, according to party leaders.

Thein Sein was re-elected as party chairman in October 2012 during a USDP party conference.

The USDP hosted a youth meeting on Wednesday in Naypyidaw, where Shwe Mann attended and met with a contingent of youths.

“We rely on the youth a lot,” Shwe Mann was quoted by the Union Daily as saying. “They are important persons as their resources can make our country rich.”

The military-backed USDP was founded by former dictator Snr-Gen Than Shwe, who has kept a low public profile since Thein Sein began implementing a raft of political and economic reforms starting in 2011. The party won 883 of 1,154 parliamentary seats in the 2010 general election but took a beating in the 2012 by-election, losing 43 of 45 contested seats to opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy (NLD).