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PARTY POLITICS

USDP Backs President Thein Sein for Second Term: Party Official

President Thein Sein is selected as the ruling party’s choice for the top post if it wins a majority in a Nov. 8 parliamentary election.


RANGOON — Burma’s President Thein Sein has been selected as the ruling party’s choice for the top post if it wins a majority in a Nov. 8 parliamentary election, a senior party member told the BBC on Friday.

Tin Naing Thein, general secretary of the Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP), said the party plans to back Thein Sein, “who is supported by the whole country as the country’s president.”

His remarks were the first public admission that the incumbent head of state would be chosen for a second term if the party were to win the polls.

Thein Sein, a former general in the Burma Army, assumed the presidency in 2011 after a 2010 general election broadly viewed as fraudulent and boycotted by the main opposition party, Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy (NLD). His five-year term will end early next year.

He is also the current chairman of the USDP, a fact underscored by the recent late-night ouster of former acting chairman and parliamentary speaker Shwe Mann, who as viewed as too close with Suu Kyi.

The 70-year-old party chief has said several times that he would take a second term if the people and his party wanted him to remain in charge.

The NLD has not yet disclosed who it would select as a presidential candidate if the party sweeps the election. The Constitution bars Chairwoman Suu Kyi from the top post because she was married to a foreigner and her two sons are British.

Voters posed the question at an NLD rally in Rangoon earlier this month, when Suu Kyi said she knew who the party would put forward but could not disclose it yet.

“I know who the president would be, but I can’t reveal it now,” Suu Kyi said. “Make no mistake; whoever the president is, I will be the leader of the NLD government.”