Thura Shwe Mann, chairman of the ruling Union Solidarity and Development Party, has been ousted and replaced by the party's vice chairman who is close to President Thein Sein, party members said on Thursday.
The surprise dismissal followed requests by some military MPs in July to remove him as Parliament Speaker. They criticised Shwe Mann of betraying national interests for seeking amendments to the 2008 Constitution. They also said that as an ex-general, Shwe Mann should also not have sought for changes in the military-sponsored constitution.
It was reported that Shwe Mann is under house arrest.
According to Reuters, he still holds the position of speaker of Myanmar's parliament.
He has been replaced as chairman by Htay Oo, who will also retain his position as vice chairman.
The decision came after an urgently-held meeting at the party's headquarters in Nay Pyi Taw. Security forces have been strengthened since 11pm last night. Most of ministers and deputy ministers arrived at the headquarters before midnight by coaches. It was reported that President Thein Sein was also there before midnight.
The party's Central Executive Committee held a meeting early this morning, at around 8am, and sources said that nearly all members of the committee approved Shwe Mann's dismissal.
The party's general secretary, Maung Maung Thein, was also removed from his position and he was replaced by Tin Naing Thein, former Union Minister for President's Office, said a party member who asked for anonymity. On Wednesday, the Myanmar government announced that Tin Naing Thein resigned from the government post on his own will.
The constitution bars individuals from holding both government positions and positions in political parties. Thein Sein also had to resign as USDP chairman before taking over the presidency.
In an interview with VOA Burmese this morning, Presidential spokesperson and information minister Ye Htut said that USDP is making some big changes for its success in the upcoming elections.
He also implied that big changes in the elections could be achieved if people in the executive level put the interests of the country and the party before his personal interests.
On Wednesday, USDP announced it would run in 1,147 constituencies across the nation in the upcoming election and it announced the names of 50 union ministers and deputy ministers as well as 59 military high-ranking officials including General Hla Htay Win, Myanmar's supreme commander.
Shwe Mann performed his duty as the party’s chairman for the last time yesterday, while meeting with USDP election candidates. He told them that no party would win landslide victory in the upcoming election.
“We can say that no party will win a landslide victory in the election. Every election is complicated and draws fierce competition; rivals are looking for each other’s mistakes. They may also resort to illegal tactics,” he told the candidates.
He also warned against malpractices that may weaken the candidates’ chances, such as abuse of power and corruption. Some have also shown reluctance to abide by the party’s rules and others rarely make contact with voters. Some are incapable while others lack any interest in observing electoral laws.
He recommended that all candidates visit their constituencies and start to make contact with voters to gain their trust, for the party’s success.