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Myanmar Military’s Proxy Party Leadership Power Struggle

The recent reshuffle of the leadership of the Myanmar military’s proxy Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) reveals that the party is once again in the grip of a power struggle. Earlier this month, USDP chair U Than Htay was replaced as acting chair with current vice chair U Khin Yi after a three-day meeting of the senior leadership. However, the ouster of U Than Htay has to be confirmed at the party’s conference, which is slated for early October, reports The Irrawaddy. In August 2015, a similar unexpected reshuffle occurred, when security forces entered the USDP headquarters in the capital Naypyitaw in what was dubbed the ‘midnight coup’. A day later, it was announced that Shwe Mann, then speaker of the lower house of Myanmar’s parliament, had been removed as the USDP chair amid a growing rift with then President U Thein Sein. Seven years later, the former generals who hold senior positions in the party jostle for power and influence, according to party sources. The USDP is now divided into two camps—those loyal to U Than Htay and those urging his replacement. The group that wants former Brigadier General U Than Htay out is believed to be backed by junta chief Min Aung Hlaing, according to members of the USDP’s Central Executive Committee (CEC).

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