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Head of Myanmar ruling party removed

August 13, 2015

Shwe Mann has been ousted as chief of Myanmar's ruling faction. The change follows tension between Myanmar President Thein Sein and Shwe Mann, the now-former chief of the Union Solidarity and Development Party.

Myanmar Sprecher des Unterhauses Shwe Man und Präsident Thein Sein
Image: Reuters/Soe Zeya Tun

The leader of Myanmar's ruling party, Shwe Mann (left in photo), was removed from his post Thursday after the intervention of President Thein Sein (right) in an unfolding party power struggle ahead of elections. He was replaced by the party's vice chairman, Htay Oo.

Shwe Mann and Thein Sein are former military generals seeking to run for president in the November 8 election.

"Shwe Mann isn't the chairman of the party anymore," a member of parliament for the ruling Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) said. "He's in good health and at home now."

Shwe Mann still holds the position of speaker of Myanmar's parliament, the source said, on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the subject.

The incident follows tension between the president and the chief of his USDP, both former generals in Myanmar's junta. Early Thursday police blockaded party offices as officials discussed the upcoming election.

Election slated for November

This autumn's presidential poll is expected to include opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi, who has risen to international prominence as a democracy campaigner.

Shwe Mann has publicly welcomed the prospect of working closely with Suu Kyi and has set himself up in opposition to the still powerful army on key issues - including constitutional reform centered on reducing the military's power and influence.

It was not apparent Thursday morning who was behind the security deployment around the party office.

But the military, which ruled Myanmar for 49 years, maintains an effective veto over the civilian government and has resisted recent constitutional reform that would weaken its powers.

dr/mkg (AFP, Reuters)