The ruling Union Solidarity and Development Party’s (USDP) chairperson and Speaker Shwe Mann warned his party members against “blind patriotism” when he spoke at the party’s fourth central committee meeting on Sunday 31 May.
During the conference Shwe Mann was appointed by the party’s leaders to take charge of an election campaign committee.
USDP mouthpiece the Union Daily newspaper reported on Monday that the parliamentary speaker told party members to be patriotic, but to refrain from blind patriotism and dogmatism.
“In order to secure victory in the elections, it is important to win the people’s trust and we must ensure that we have the people on our side. I want to say that we need to be patriotic but at the same time be cautious of blind patriotism,” he said.
“Also, we must not be dogmatic and we should look to bring about reforms in an objective and timely manner. I believe that this approach will win us domestic and foreign support, ensuring a victory in the elections and tranquillity in the post-election period,” he said.
He also urged USDP members to prioritise the country’s interests, rather than those of the party.
“I am not being self-congratulatory towards our own party – but I have to say that we are the only party that can ensure stability and serve the national interest, and thus we must ensure that we win in the elections.”
Shwe Mann, who was formerly a joint chief of staff in the armed forces under the previous military junta, is regarded as an influential member of his party. The retired lieutenant-general also courted controversy earlier this year by announcing he was open to an alliance with the opposition leader, Aung San Suu Kyi.
The speaker also alluded to his personal presidential ambitions earlier in May.
The USDP in the 2010 election won 883 of 1154 vacant parliamentary seats across the country and is currently the strongest party in parliament. The party currently has over 5.5 million members countrywide.
Following the central committee meeting on 31 May the USDP pledged to announce a list of candidates for the general election within two weeks.