More than half the members of the Union Solidarity and Development Party’s (USDP) central committee have signed a petition calling on the party’s leadership to hold an emergency meeting.
Addressed to the party’s chairman Thein Sein, the petition submitted on Friday stressed an urgent need for the central committee to convene to discuss recent developments, including the dismissal of Thura Shwe Mann and 16 other committee members earlier this month, as well as Shwe Mann’s removal as party chairman in August of last year.
The petition, signed by 136 of 219 of central committee members, said a discussion is crucial to restore party unity and to ensure that decisions laid out by the leadership are in line with the party’s policies and guidelines.
Shwe Mann on 25 April put out a statement confirming that he and 16 other central committee members had been removed from their posts and called the remaining USDP members and people of Burma to question whether the party leadership’s decision conformed with its guidelines, existing laws and regulations.
Political columnist Than Soe Naing said the upcoming meeting will see the emergence of a deepening division among the party’s members.
“According to the party guidelines, U Thein Sein must call the meeting as requested by the majority of the central committee members. My take on this is that they are more likely to see a split in the meeting than unification,” he said.
The petitioners called to convene the meeting on 28 and 29 May.
The USDP, the proxy party of the military junta that previously ruled Burma, was defeated by the National League for Democracy, led by Aung San Suu Kyi, in last year’s elections.
At a recent meeting with party members in the Karenni State Loikaw, the party’s general secretary Tin Naing Thein blamed the election defeat on various factors, including a lack of preparation and unity among its members.
“Our party suffered defeat in 2015 under various circumstances such as a lack of unity, a lack of oversight in preparation, training and media relations, a lack of support from the people, a lack of ethnic campaigners, the weak presence of women in the party committees, and a lack of engagement with civil society,” Tin Naing Thein was quoted as saying on the party’s Facebook page.