The leader of Myanmar’s ruling party has been removed from his post, an official said yesterday, after a shock police swoop on party headquarters that laid bare a power struggle among the country’s key political players ahead of elections.
The ruling Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) has been gripped by in-fighting in the run up to the November polls — billed as the freest and fairest for decades in the former junta-ruled nation.
After a night of high political drama that saw security forces enter the USDP base in Naypyidaw, Shwe Mann — who is also the parliamentary speaker — appeared to be the main target of a swift and decisive power play.
Recent months have seen intensifying rumors of animosity between Shwe Mann and Burmese President Thein Sein, both former generals who shed their uniforms to play central roles in Myanmar’s reforms.
Thein Sein agreed to Shwe Mann’s removal from his party role, Zaw Htay of the Burmese President’s Office said.
“This is just a party leadership affair, there is no reason to worry,” he said, countering rumors Shwe Mann had been arrested.
The government was working “to stabilize public order,” he added, without giving details.
Earlier, Shwe Mann’s son said his father’s house in the capital had been surrounded by “so-called guards,” following the police raid late on Wednesday.
“It is strange that armed forces have restricted a political party in this way,” Toe Naing Mann said, adding that he was monitoring the situation through contacts from Yangon.
About half a dozen police remained at the gate of the party’s vast headquarters, according to a reporter at the scene.
The surprise move comes a day before the deadline for candidates to register to contest the upcoming polls.
There were also signs that Shwe Mann was reluctant to support candidates loyal to the president and had not accepted some recently retired soldiers put forward by the powerful army.
Political tensions are seething ahead of the Nov. 8 polls.
They are set to be contested by opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi, who was a thorn in the side of the previous junta regime with her years campaigning for democracy.
Shwe Mann had publicly welcomed the idea of working closely with Aung San Suu Kyi, whose party is expected to make strong gains at the looming polls.
He has also set himself up in opposition to the still-powerful army on key issues — including on constitutional reform debates that center on reducing the military’s political power.
A USDP source, who requested anonymity due to the sensitivity of the information, earlier said he believed the plan was to remove Shwe Mann as party leader and impose “a new party structure.”
“We did not expect this. There were some disagreement inside the party, but that’s all. This is not good — both for the party and also for the country’s future,” the source added.
Controversial 2010 elections brought a new quasi-civilian government that has ushered in sweeping reforms.
However, concerns over the depth and pace of those reforms has mounted in recent months.
The USDP has been the vehicle for the former junta elites to metamorphose from soldiers to members of parliament.
On Wednesday, senior USDP member Aung Ko said that the party had received “more than a hundred” applications from recently retired military officers and Cabinet ministers looking to stand in the elections for the party.
However, many of these had not been accepted into the party.
‘CONFESSED’: A court in Beijing said that former CCP member Ren Zhiqiang abused his power at a state firm and embezzled almost US$7.14 million of public funds A Chinese tycoon who called Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) a clown and criticized his handling of the COVID-19 pandemic was yesterday jailed for 18 years for corruption, bribery and embezzlement of public funds. Ren Zhiqiang (任志強) — once among the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) inner circle — disappeared from the public eye in March, shortly after penning an essay that lambasted Xi’s pandemic response. His outspokenness had earned the former chairman of state-owned property developer Huayuan Group the nickname “Big Cannon.” Yesterday’s verdict said that Ren embezzled almost 50 million yuan (US$7.4 million) of public funds and accepted bribes worth 1.25 million
AUSTRALIAN SITE: China has had a contract with SSC’s Yatharagga station since at least 2011, but the last time it used it was in June 2013. No final date has been given China would lose access to a strategic space tracking station in Western Australia when its contract expires, the facility’s owners said, a decision that cuts into Beijing’s expanding space exploration and navigational capabilities in the Pacific region. The Swedish Space Corp (SSC) has had a contract allowing Beijing access to the satellite antenna at the station since at least 2011. The station is located next to an SSC satellite station primarily used by the US and its agencies, including NASA. The Swedish state-owned company said it would not enter into any new contracts at the Australian site to support Chinese customers after
OFF BORDER ISLAND: The fisheries official disappeared from a patrol vessel wearing a life jacket and leaving behind his shoes, indicating an intentional move, Seoul said North Korean soldiers shot dead a suspected South Korean defector at sea and burned his body as a COVID-19 precaution after he was interrogated in the water over several hours, Seoul military officials said yesterday. It is the first killing of a South Korean citizen by North Korean forces for a decade, and comes with Pyongyang at high alert over the COVID-19 pandemic and inter-Korean relations at a standstill. The fisheries official disappeared from a patrol vessel near the western border island of Yeonpyeong on Monday, the official said. More than 24 hours later, North Korean forces located him in their waters and
The scarcity of commercial flights landing at Sydney Airport has been a disaster for airlines and workers, but for hobby pilots the COVID-19 pandemic has provided the opportunity of a lifetime. The quieter-than-usual runways mean that private pilots have been given the chance to land at the international airport for the first time. When Sydney Flight College club captain Tim Lindley put out a call, he received an overwhelming response. He eventually organized for 14 light aircraft to fly into Sydney airport on Sunday. “For a lot of the pilots involved, including myself, it was a childhood dream to land in a big