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Ruling party plans for next election

New leader needed before 2015 poll

Ruling party plans for next election
The USDP conference is focusing on the 2015 election
John Zaw, Mandalay

October 15, 2012

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The Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP), Myanmar's military-dominated ruler, reconvened a conference in the capital Naypyidaw yesterday as it looks to select a new leader. With critical elections scheduled for 2015, the party is expected to appoint Shwe Mann, the speaker of the Lower House and a key figure in the former junta, before the conference ends on Wednesday. The USDP is tipped to promote him from vice-leader of the party to its vacant top position after Thein Sein became president in March last year. “As we move towards the implementation of a democratic system for the benefit of the people, the USDP and all of its members are required to participate enthusiastically wherever they are,” Shwe Mann told delegates yesterday. Last week, opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi said she had “the courage to be a president,” her most recent and clear response on the issue of Myanmar’s leadership. Thein Sein will be 70 years old when Myanmar contests its next general election and has already said that he will retire once the poll has concluded. Most analysts predict the USDP will struggle to overcome Suu Kyi in 2015 if the poll is free and fair. The USDP recorded a landslide victory in the November 2010 polls which many observers criticized for being heavily rigged in its favor. But Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy inflicted a crushing defeat on the party in a by-election in April. This poll was seen as much more free and fair and therefore indicative of the support for her party. She easily defeated the military’s main party in the 1990 election, which the junta failed to recognize. Khine Maung Yee, an MP with the opposition National Democratic Force, a party that splintered from the NLD to contest the 2010 poll, said every political party was thinking ahead to 2015. “If a party is working for the people and serves them, the people will vote for them,” he said. Related reports Opposition will 'influence" parliament Rights group accuses Myanmar of poll abuses
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