Purged From USDP Leadership, Outgoing MP Cuts Party Ties

By Moe Myint 29 January 2016

NAYPYIDAW — At the Union Parliament in Naypyidaw on Friday, one former senior leader of the ruling Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP), Thura Aung Ko, said he was cutting ties in the first high-profile defection from a party on the ropes after its November election defeat.

“I have no plan to take in part in politics as a member of the USDP. No more plans,” he told media on the sidelines of a largely ceremonial last day of Parliament before most USDP lawmakers make way for incoming parliamentarians from the National League for Democracy (NLD).

Asked by The Irrawaddy if he would be ready to serve NLD chairwoman Aung San Suu Kyi, the lawmaker appeared to leave open the possibility.

“I will serve for my country’s citizens as an individual, in coordination with any party-organization,” said the outgoing chairman of Parliament’s Judicial and Legal Affairs Committee.

“Sister [Suu Kyi] hasn’t spoken yet. But very often she has said: ‘If it’s necessary to assist the country, just help.’ That’s all I can say for now,” he added.

Along with Union Parliament speaker and USDP chairman Shwe Mann, Thura Aung Ko was among several USDP central committee members who were replaced in August in a party leadership reshuffle ordered by President Thein Sein.

The shakeup at the top of the ruling party was reportedly prompted by a rivalry between Thein Sein and Shwe Mann, the latter being viewed as too close to Suu Kyi and the NLD.

Thura Aung Ko said Friday that the reason for his planned departure from the party was that, following his ouster from the central committee, he no longer had any duties to perform.

Under Burma’s former military regime, Thura Aung Ko served as deputy minister for the ministries of Science and Technology, and Religion, from 1997-2010.

He represents Chin State’s Kanpetlet Township in the Lower House, a seat he lost to San Khin of the NLD on Nov. 8.

The new, NLD-dominated Parliament will convene on Monday of next week.