Chair of Myanmar Military Proxy Party Will Run for Parliament

By Htet Naing Zaw 5 August 2020

NAYPYITAW—The chairman of the opposition Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP), U Than Htay, will run for a seat in the Lower House of the Union Parliament in Naypyitaw’s Zayarthiri Township in November’s election.

U Than Htay’s representative submitted his candidacy application to the Naypyitaw election office on Wednesday.

“We have chosen a constituency for him where he will definitely win,” a source from the USDP told The Irrawaddy on condition of anonymity.

Zayarthiri Township is home to many military institutions including the Office of the Commander-in-Chief of Defense Services. The USDP, which is widely viewed as the proxy of the Myanmar military, won in Zayarthiri in both the 2010 and 2015 general elections.

In each election, one of Myanmar’s top generals ran as a USDP candidate for the township’s Lower House seat and won: former General U Shwe Mann won in 2010 and former General U Hla Htay Win won in 2015. Both were serving as the Chief of General Staff (Army, Navy and Air) before they retired from the military to join the USDP and run for office.

U Hla Htay Win currently holds the Zayarthiri Lower House position. U Shwe Mann served as the Parliament speaker under the previous government but was ousted from the USDP chair position in a power struggle with former President U Thein Sein. He founded the Union Betterment Party last year and is planning to run in the election at the national level.

U Than Htay ran in the 2015 general election in his native Myanaung Township in Ayeyarwady Region but lost to a National League for Democracy (NLD) candidate. He then became the USDP chairman when U Thein Sein retired.

U Than Htay is also a former military officer, having graduated from Intake 18 of the Defense Services Academy. He served as commander of the 77th Light Infantry Division as a Brigadier General before being appointed deputy minister and then Minister of Energy as well as Minister for Rail Transport.

The 66 year-old received a bachelor’s degree in art and a post-graduate degree in defense. He currently lives in Raja Thingaha Housing Estate in Naypyitaw’s Ottarathiri Township. The ruling NLD will also field a candidate in Zayarthiri Township.

For Lower House seats representing Naypyitaw’s other townships, the USDP will field former Foreign Minister U Wunna Maung Lwin in Zabuthiri Township, former Finance Minister U Win Shein in Ottarathiri Township and former Agriculture and Livestock Minister U Myint Hlaing in Dekkhinathiri Township.

Former Defense Minister and General Wai Lwin will run in Pobbathiri Township. The USDP candidates for Naypyitaw’s Pyinmana, Tatkon and Lewe townships are civilians.

The USDP will also contest both Upper House seats for Naypyitaw.

Besides the USDP and the NLD, the United Democratic Party, the National Unity Party, the National United Democratic Party, the People’s Pioneer Party and independent candidates will run in elections in Naypyitaw.

Translated from Burmese by Thet Ko Ko.

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