Shwe Mann Removed as Ruling Party Chairman Amid Midnight Reshuffle

By The Irrawaddy 13 August 2015

RANGOON — Burma’s ruling party leadership was reshuffled amid confusion and high tension in Naypyidaw on Wednesday night, with the party’s chairman Shwe Mann removed from his post and replaced with party vice chairman Htay Oo, according to sources close to the matter.

Security was tight outside the Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) headquarters in the nation’s capital and outside the residences of several top party officials as the political maneuverings took shape late into the night and early morning.

According to a Shwe Mann family source, the now former USDP chairman, who is also Union Parliament speaker, was removed from the top party post and was now at his home in Naypyidaw with security posted outside.

Maung Maung Thein, USDP general secretary, was also removed. Speaking on Thursday morning, he confirmed that senior party members had ousted him from his position.

“They called me and told me that I don’t need to come to the office anymore,” Maung Maung Thein told Reuters.*

Speaking to Voice of America’s Burmese service on earlier Thursday morning, Maung Maung Thein was uncertain over the political turmoil engulfing the ruling party and did not refer to his own position.

“The situation is not that clear so it’s difficult for me to say now,” he said.

The relationship between the Burmese military and Shwe Mann has reportedly soured.

A petition circulating last month, which collected 1,700 signatures from the parliamentary speaker’s Naypyidaw constituency of Zayarthiri, called for his impeachment, claiming he violated the law by not respecting the military’s role in Parliament.

The petition claimed that Shwe Mann did not inform his constituents about plans to hold constitutional deliberations in the Parliament, leading to a “misunderstanding” between the public and the military.

In an interview with the BBC Burmese service in July, Shwe Mann was questioned about his perceived closeness to the leader of Burma’s main opposition party Aung San Suu Kyi.

“If I have to say this clearly: rather than Suu Kyi and I being on one side, we could say that the people and I are on one side,” he responded.

On Wednesday, the USDP gave approval to 59 now former military personnel to run as candidates in the general election on November 8.

*This article was updated at 10:30am to include comments by Maung Maung Thein made to Reuters.