Burma’s President Thein Sein is holding an emergency meeting this morning to “handle some urgent issues” within the ruling Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP), according to presidential spokesman Ye Htut in an interview with Chinese news group Xinhua.
The move comes amid speculation of a dramatic overhaul within the military-backed party, as army personnel were seen surrounding the USDP compound in Naypyidaw last night.
A DVB reporter in the Burmese capital confirmed that at least 10 vehicles were patrolling or entering the compound.
Lower House Speaker Shwe Mann appears to be the main victim of a purge. The son of parliamentary House Speaker Shwe Mann has said that “guards” are at his father’s house.
USDP General Secretary Maung Maung Thein also believes that he has been removed.
“I am no longer general secretary,” he told DVB by telephone on Thursday morning. He said he was not invited for this morning’s meeting.
Reuters news group has quoted him saying, “They called me and told me that I don’t need to come to the office anymore.”
Meanwhile on Thursday, state media reported that a cabinet reshuffle was taking place.
“The President’s Office has announced a cabinet reshuffle involving the reassignment, assignment and retirement of union ministers and deputy ministers,” led the Global New Light of Myanmar on its front page.
It reported that Minister of Defence Lt-Gen Wai Lwin and his deputy, Maj-Gen Kyaw Nyunt, were “reassigned to their former military responsibilities”, as were Minister Lt-Gen Thet Naing Win and Deputy Minister Maj-Gen Tin Aung Chit of Border Affairs.
At least ten other ministers and deputy ministers were “allowed to resign” or “resigned of their own volition,” the report said.
Meanwhile, presidential spokesman Ye Htut, in an interview with VOA, said, “Based on my knowledge as a citizen and a voter but not as a cabinet member and minister, any party will have to go about changes when its leadership deviates from the party’s policies; ignores the party members’ will; prioritises personal profit over the country’s interests; and creates factionalism within the party. I believe that not only the USDP but also other parties would do that [in such a situation].”
This latest realignment of the ruling party comes in the wake of the USDP’s release of its candidate list for the upcoming general election, which omitted senior members of Thein Sein’s inner circle, including President’s Office ministers Aung Min and Soe Thein.
It also comes a day before the 14 August deadline for submission of the candidate lists by political parties. Parties have a week after this deadline to make any changes to their lists, but rejected candidates would not have a window of opportunity to run independently or join another party.