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Burma’s ruling party has quashed rumours that it has expelled its former chairman Shwe Mann.
Speaking to DVB on Wednesday afternoon, a spokesperson for the military-linked Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) denied that the party had removed Shwe Mann from its list of candidates for the 8 November general election.
USDP public relations officer Kyaw Thura said that a high-level meeting required to make such a decision had not taken place.
“Our senior officials are not present at the moment – they have been travelling and therefore we had no meeting at our headquarters. Recently we have only been conducting training courses [at the HQ] for ballot station representatives and assistance. We understand that such rumours can be expected when the elections are drawing near due to political circumstances. We are planning to make clarifications via our official websites and Facebook pages.”
A notice posted to one of the USDP’s Facebook pages shortly afterwards read:
“There have been posts on Facebook claiming Thura U Shwe Mann was expelled from the party following a meeting by the Central Executive Committee in the evening of 3 November.
“We would like to clarify that there was no Central Executive Committee (CEC) meeting on the said date and all our CEC members are currently in their relevant constituencies. The USDP’s headquarters are hosting training courses for ballot station representatives and assistance. The information being spread on the internet is only rumours and we would like to urge everyone to stop spreading it.”
Shwe Mann, who remains the speaker of the Burma’s parliamentary Lower House, was removed from his position as party chair in a leadership meeting in Naypyidaw in August. Armed security forces were present when senior members of the USDP voted to relieve Shwe Mann of his post. Then-deputy chair Htay Oo and President Thein Sein were appointed to share the newly vacant post, each taking the position of joint-chairman.
Htay Oo spoke to DVB in the Irrawaddy Division town of Hinthada on Wednesday, where the retired military general is now campaigning. When asked by DVB to confirm whether he could confirm Shwe Mann’s reported expulsion he said:
“No I can’t. The joint-chairman cannot do this alone but the decision has to be made by the Central Executive Committee and other various committees within the party.”
Shwe Mann’s office said they had not been notified of any change to the Pegu-native’s status.
“We don’t know anything yet as of now, whether the party issued an official notification or informed [Shwe Mann]’s personal assist about it. But so far the party is yet to contact us. Thura U Shwe Mann right now is in Phyu continuing his campaign, meeting locals in his constituency,” said Aung Ko Win, the director of Shwe Mann’s office.
Shwe Mann is contesting Sunday’s election in the Pegu Division Lower House seat of Phyu.
Read more about Shwe Mann here.