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Myanmar ruling party chief Shwe Mann ousted in power struggle

The ruling Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) has been gripped by in-fighting in the run up to the November polls. After security forces entered the USDP base in Naypyidaw, Shwe Mann, the ruling party chief and the parliamentary speaker was removed from his position.

world Updated: Aug 13, 2015 14:04 IST
Myanmar Power struggle,Shwe Mann,Union Solidarity and Development Party
Myanmar's parliamentary speaker and leader of the ruling party, Shwe Mann was removed from his post after the intervention of the president, in an unfolding party power struggle ahead of elections. (AFP file photo/ Ye Aung Thu)

Shwe Mann, the leader of Myanmar's ruling party was removed from his post ahead of the elections, after a shock police swoop on the party headquarters that revealed a power struggle among Myanmar's key political players.

The ruling Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) has been gripped by in-fighting in the run up to the November polls - billed as the freest and fairest for decades in the former-junta ruled nation.

After a night of high political drama which saw security forces enter the USDP base in Naypyidaw, Shwe Mann - who is also the parliamentary speaker - appeared to be the main target of a swift and decisive power play.

Recent months have seen intensifying rumours of animosity between Shwe Mann and the President Thein Sein, both former generals who shed their uniforms to play central roles in Myanmar's reforms.

Thein Sein agreed to Shwe Mann's removal from his party role, Zaw Htay of the President's office told AFP.

"This is just a party leadership affair, there is no reason to worry," he said, countering rumours Shwe Mann had been arrested.

The government was working "to stabilise public order," he added, without giving details.

Earlier, Shwe Mann's son told AFP his father's house in the capital had been surrounded by "so-called guards", following the police swoop late on Wednesday.

"It is strange that armed forces have restricted a political party in this way," Toe Naing Mann added, saying he was monitoring the situation through contacts from Yangon. About half a dozen police remained at the gate of the party's vast headquarters.

The surprise move comes a day before the deadline for candidates to register to contest the upcoming polls.

There were also signs that Shwe Mann was reluctant to support candidates loyal to the President and had not accepted some recently retired soldiers put forward by the powerful army.

Political tensions are seething ahead of the November 8 polls.

They are set to be contested by opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi, who was a thorn in the side of the previous junta regime with her years campaigning for democracy.

Shwe Mann had publicly welcomed the idea of working closely with Suu Kyi, whose party is expected to make strong gains at the looming polls.

First Published: Aug 13, 2015 13:58 IST