Ousted senior officials from the Union Solidarity and Development Party are threatening to take their feud to the election commission if their request for a party conference is not heeded.

Seventeen members of the former ruling party, including former Speaker Thura U Shwe Mann and his camp, were expelled from the USDP on April 22, soon after former president U Thein Sein resumed the reins.

Through press conferences and personal appeals, the ousted members have demanded a party conference where the expulsions can be discussed and addressed via a party vote.

Yesterday, Thura U Shwe Mann and his allies released an open letter demanding the party leadership provide justification for the expulsions in line with party rules and regulations.

“[We ask them] not to bring the party into darkness. That’s why we are urging them to solve this issue according to the party’s rules and regulations,” expelled USDP member U Zaw Myint Pe said at the press conference held at Thingaha Hotel in Nay Pyi Taw yesterday.

Four of the ousted ruling party members attended the press event, but Thura U Shwe Mann was absent.

The expulsions, believed to have been ordered by U Thein Sein shortly after he and senior party officials held a strategy meeting in March, confirmed deep rifts within the USDP which suffered a crushing defeat by the National League for Democracy in last November’s election. Since receiving the dismissal notices, Thura U Shwe Mann has demanded that the USDP hold an emergency conference to decide whether the party had acted within due reason.

U Zaw Myint Pe said the feud has grown beyond the parameters of an intra-party issue and could affect the well-being of the state and the public should it continue. He added that a complaint will be filed with the Union Election Commission if the USDP continues to violate party principles.

“It is already clear that the commission would take action against the USDP, but we don’t want to destroy a big party. That’s why we haven’t complained yet,” he said.

U Zaw Myint Pe warned that the more U Thein Sein’s camp resists the request, the worse off the party image will be and the less ground it has for the 2020 election.

“They act like dictators in solving inter-party issues,” he said.

The USDP has yet to respond to the expelled members’ requests. But party spokesperson U Khin Ye told reporters last week that a conference will be held in August and that until then, the party will be busy preparing.

U Khin Ye said all party issues would be decided at the conference, but did not discuss whether the dismissal of Thura U Shwe Mann and his allies would be on the agenda.

“The party h as to pay attention to the party reform process. We don’t have time to resolve other issues,” a party officer who asked not to be named told The Myanmar Times.

Another ousted member, U Win Than, said all decisions made since Thura U Shwe Mann was sacked from chairing the party last August have flouted the party rules. The former Speaker was forced to resign amid an inter-party coup flanked by security forces. His close working relations with state counsellor and then-opposition leader Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, and his support for constitutional amendments, were believed to have alienated the military and some of the less reform-minded members of the USDP.

The former Speaker and the ex-president have long had a tense relationship, with their factions within the party often at odds.

Last week, U Thein Sein held meetings in Yangon with senior party officials to discuss revitalising the party for the next ballot. The USDP has announced plans to establish a party think tank led by former ministers U Soe Thein and U Aung Min. Yesterday, the party began a media training program at its headquarters in order to train members on how to better interact with the press corps.

“We have a duty to act as watchdog for the NLD government,” said U Hla Swe, a former USDP Amyotha Hluttaw MP.

“We will point out the mistakes in their work and we will fill the blanks they cannot.”

Link: http://www.mmtimes.com/index.php/national-news/20582-as-usdp-preps-for-comeback-expelled-members-threaten-action.html