USDP Domestic Squabble Heats Up as Shwe Mann Wins Support

By Kyaw Phyo Tha 30 May 2016

RANGOON — While Burma’s former ruling party chairman has vowed to achieve success in the next election, current and former senior members of the Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) have sent an open letter to the party chief to review actions that they claim were not in accordance with internal rules.

On Monday, 12 current and former USDP members, including five sitting and six previous central executive committee members, sent an open letter addressed to the party chairman, ex-President Thein Sein, all other USDP members and the public, stating: “This issue is related to the state and to justice, the rule of law, the flourishing of democracy and the people’s safety, despite the fact it seems to be a matter of the party’s internal affairs.”

All 12 members who signed the open letter are now members of the Union Parliament’s Legal Affairs and Special Cases Assessment Commission, led by former USDP chairman Shwe Mann.

Among the signatories, five senior members were kicked out of the USDP in April along with Shwe Mann and current Religious Affairs and Culture Minister Aung Ko.

After the purge, Shwe Mann also questioned the legality of the ouster.

Monday’s letter also asserts that a midnight raid on the party’s headquarters in Naypyidaw in August last year followed by the replacement of some central executive committee members were actions that were not in accordance with the party’s existing by-laws.

“Despite the party’s rules that state that any member has the right to defend himself or herself with a representative when accused, the purges on August 13 last year and April 22 this year were carried out without any knowledge of those affected. Further, they had no chance to defend themselves,” the letter said.

Zaw Myint Pe, an ex-central committee member and now a member of the Legal Affairs and Special Cases Assessment Commission, told The Irrawaddy on Monday that the signatories sent the letter because they wanted people to know that “the USDP needs to address these problems.”

“Now they are talking about achieving success in the next election. But we are afraid that the party will be in disarray,” he said.

The USDP was trounced by the National League for Democracy (NLD) in last November’s general election.

When asked about Shwe Mann’s public attempts to raise the matter of his and his colleagues’ ouster, Zaw Myint Pe said the ousted party chairman was in solidarity with them.

“We are all of the same opinion.”

He added that he still hadn’t received any official explanation about his expulsion from the party and speculated that he might be regarded as a “traitor” because he joined Shwe Mann’s commission.

“I was kicked out because I am close to U Shwe Mann. But the [Legal Affairs and Special Cases] Commission was not formed by the National League for Democracy but rather by the Union Parliament.”