Chiang Mai (Mizzima) – Thura Shwe Mann, the former third highest military officer, has been appointed temporary chairman of the Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP), according to party sources.
In a late April meeting of the USDP, the ruling party named Thura Shwe Mann as temporary chairman; Htay Oo as general secretary; Aung Thaung as secretary 1; Thein Zaw as secretary 2; and Maung Oo as disciplinary official, to assume office on May 2.
The headquarters was also moved from Rangoon to Naypyitaw. Currently, Shwe Mann holds both the chairman and vice chairman position, a USDP official told Mizzima.
Party officials said that Thura Shwe Mann, who is also Lower House speaker, was named temporary chairman because the party wanted to promote unity among party members. Aung Thaung, the newly appointed party secretary 1, is a close confident of former Senior General Than Shwe; Secretary 2 Thein Zaw is a former post, communication and telegraph minister; new disciplinary official Maung Oo is a former home affairs minister.
‘Earlier, they took high positions in both the government and the party’s central executive committee. Now, they are totally devoted to the party’, said a spokesman.
Most of the former top USDP leaders including President Thein Sein were in the Cabinet, and the party vacancies were filled with leaders who are former top military officers, party officials said.
Earlier, observers believed that former Rangoon Mayor Aung Thein Lin was likely to become the chairman of USDP, but because of corruption in the municipality, he was not in the running and was appointed to lead the Rangoon USDP branch.
Some USDP party officials are complaining about a division of leadership and power involving some former party leaders who are now in the Cabinet but who are still trying to influence the party, party sources said.
The now defunct Union Solidarity and Development Association, a precursor of USDP, was formed as a social organization in 1993. At that time, the organization was under the patronage of former Senior General Than Shwe and former Vice Senior General Maung Aye. It was transformed into the USDP in 2010 as the state-backed political party.
The USDP holds 882 seats out of a total of 1,154 seats (76.5 percent) across the three legislative bodies.