Myanmar Military’s Proxy USDP Taking Control of Yangon Administrations

By Hein Htoo Zan 23 December 2022

Myanmar’s junta has begun replacing village tract and ward administrators with hardcore members of the military-backed Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) in Yangon’s outskirts, according to former administrators and residents.

The move comes after USDP chair U Khin Yin introduced a security framework for party members. Whistleblowers inside the USDP have confirmed that the junta is replacing local administrators at his suggestion.

U Khin Yi, a retired brigadier general and ex-national police chief, began replacing local administrators with USDP loyalists during his tours of Ayerwaddy, Sagaing and the capital Naypyitaw in November, just one month after becoming party chairman.

Visiting Sagaing Region’s capital Monywa on November 25, U Khin Yi told party members and military retired military personnel, “I have already written a security framework for all our party members. Now is the time to wipe away the tears, grasp our swords firmly and take a step forward.”

The latest administration replacements have been imposed in the northern Yangon townships of Mingaladon, Shwepyithar, Htauk Kyant, Hlegy and Hmawbi, as well as Hlaing Tharyar village. These areas are home to several military divisions, battalions and other military infrastructure and facilities in Yangon Region.

The replacement of basic-level administrative bodies is understood to be part of preparations for an election the junta is planning to hold next year.

A retired 70-year-old politician in South Dagon township said swapping local administrators and 100-household leaders for hardline USDP members will lead to more oppression of ordinary residents in the town.

“Our current administrators are like those we had during the previous USDP regime, or those who didn’t join the CDM [Civil Disobedience Movement]. This doesn’t mean they are all informants or pro-military guys. Some could not decline duties the regime has assigned them,” he explained, speaking on condition of anonymity over safety concerns.

“But once they are replaced, I’m sure there will be increasing oppression of not just young people who are resisting the junta but also the lives of all ordinary residents,” he added.

However, the administrative overhaul is yet to reach his South Dagon Township despite rumors that USDP replacements will arrive soon. The same rumors are spreading in other Yangon townships such as Sanchaung and Hlaing, which witnessed brutal crackdowns and mass arrests of young protesters after last year’s coup.

Details of the replacement scheme were leaked from the regime’s Yangon General Administration Department in a letter dated Dec. 9.

The letter stated the department has been permitted to replace 72 village tract and ward administrators and 292 hundred-household heads.

Administrators contacted by the Irrawaddy confirmed these replacements and said all came from the USDP.

“Though we have heard the replacements are coming to our township too, there has been no official order yet,” said a ward administrator in Insein Township.

A resident also confirmed that new USDP administrators have taken over in Mingaladon township’s Sin Phon village and in villages around Phaung Gyi in Hlegu township.

“I don’t know what will happen if they all take administrative seats, but I just hope they don’t bully the people,” he said.

Meanwhile, administrators in 14 of Mingaladon’s 27 wards are being removed from their posts starting December 15, according to a letter purportedly issued by Yangon Region authorities that has been shared on social media.