Military Proxy USDP Adds Leaders Ahead of Myanmar’s Election

By Thiha Lwin 24 February 2020

YANGON—The Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) has expanded its senior management in a move the party says will facilitate its preparations for the 2020 general election.

The military proxy opposition party has appointed two vice-chairs and three additional members to its central executive committee, the party said at a press conference on Friday.

“The election is drawing near, and as we need to campaign on a wide scale, we have reinforced with two vice-chairpersons,” said USDP spokesperson Dr. Nanda Hla Myint.

The new vice-chairs are former national police chief U Khin Yi and former Minister of the President’s Office U Hla Tun.

U Hla Tun facilitated the transfer of power from the previous government, led by the USDP, to the current National League for Democracy (NLD) government following the 2015 election. Dr. Nanda Hla Myint said the USDP has appointed U Hla Tun as vice-chair in the hope that he will facilitate the process again if the USDP wins the election.

U Hla Tun is also a retired major general and served as an ordnance director before the USDP government leadership appointed him minister of the President’s Office.

U Khin Yi was the chief of the Myanmar Police Force and is a retired brigadier general of the Myanmar military. He served as the Union minister for immigration and population in the USDP government.

With the appointment of two new vice-chairs, sitting vice-chairman and former Myanmar air force commander-in-chief U Myat Hein assumes a senior position, with U Khin Yi and U Hla Tun becoming vice-chairs 2 and 3, respectively.

The USDP also appointed current Lower House lawmakers U Maung Myint, U Thein Tun and U Sai Tun Sein to the party’s central executive committee.

“It is good for their party that those who are more capable and insightful have joined the party leadership, but there is not much difference from the point of view of the people. To the people, they are the same old actors,” said political analyst U Ye Htun.

At the party’s general conference in 2016, following its resounding defeat in the 2015 poll, the party elected 38 members to its central executive committee, including U Than Htay as its new chairperson.

With five new appointees, the central executive committee now has 43 members, still short of its standard structure of 60. However, the vice-chair positions have been filled.

At the 2016 conference, the party convened a nine-member leading committee that included former president and USDP chair U Thein Sein. One year later, U Thein Sein dissolved the committee of his own accord.

The party now maintains a 26-member central consultative committee of former ministers, deputy ministers, chief ministers and reliable party members. The committee provides advice to the central executive committee.

The USDP was born out of the Union Solidarity and Development Association, a mass organization formed by the military government of the State Law and Order Restoration Council in 1993. In 2010, the generals in charge resigned from the military and joined the USDP to run in that year’s election. They won the election and formed the government but in 2015, they lost to the NLD and were forced to step down.

Translated from Burmese by Thet Ko Ko.

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