NLD Stalwart Returns to Ongoing Speculation Over Party Role

By The Irrawaddy 20 March 2018

YANGON — National League for Democracy stalwart supporter and aide to Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, U Win Htein, will return to Myanmar later this week after meeting with the State Counselor in Australia, according to sources close to his family.

He left suddenly for Australia in January after his son’s wedding, which Suu Kyi had criticized for its grandeur. At the time, rumors circulated on social media that the party had suspended him from his duties, and even that he had resigned.

U Win Htein is one of the party’s Secretariat members who has been overseeing the ruling party since Daw Aung San Suu Kyi was appointed to Union ministerial positions and State Counselor in 2016 after the NLD government came to power. But he was known for his influence both in the party and government due to his proximity to Suu Kyi as well as his reckless remarks, including that the country’s military may be involved in spreading rumors to destabilize the NLD government.

During her visit to Australia, Suu Kyi had meetings with U Win Htein on Sunday and Monday. Local media reported – quoting people with knowledge of the meetings – that the state counselor had urged him to return to Myanmar before the end of March. On Monday, after the meeting, people close to him posted on social media that U Win Htein would head to Myanmar on Saturday.

According to some of the party’s central executive committee (CEC) members, he had not reported his trip to the party. But he sent a letter to the party in late February, asking the CEC to decide if he was still permitted to continue his duties serving the party.

Party CEC member Dr. Myo Nyunt told local media that he did not want to comment on the situation at the moment.

“We take his departure as a leave. If he decides to come back, he will have to assume his duties as usual,” he said.

During his absence, the NLD held CEC meetings in Naypyitaw. After the January meeting, U Nyan Win, the chairman of the NLD information team, told the media that the meeting had not discussed anything related to U Win Htein and that he remained a central executive committee member of the party.