Myanmar's ousted ruling party leader Shwe Mann meets Aung San Suu Kyi
|In this file photo, Aung San Suu Kyi speaks as Shwe Mann looks on. (Photo: Reuters: Soe Zeya Tun)|
August 17, 2015
Myanmar's ousted ruling party leader Shwe Mann has met opposition leader and Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi in the country's capital, a member of parliament for the ruling party said.
President Thein Sein sacked Shwe Mann from the ruling Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) in dramatic fashion last week, in part because of his relationship with rival party leaders.
Shwe Mann, who remains speaker of parliament and a USDP member, had built ties with Ms Suu Kyi.
The two met for an hour, the parliamentarian said on condition of anonymity. He said he did not know what they discussed.
On Monday, the president made a rare appearance at the ruling party headquarters as his newly installed leadership team prepared for a showdown in parliament with Shwe Mann.
Members of the USDP, made up mostly of former military officers, made an appeal for unity at the meeting.
The country's first free elections in 25 years are due in three months.
The party, which took power in 2011 to end almost half a century of military rule, is expected to fare poorly against Ms Suu Kyi's opposition National League for Democracy in the vote.
"Today, as you see, president Thein Sein also came to meet the party members," the new chairman of the party, Htay Oo, said in a speech.
"The USDP needs to stay strong. The USDP has to be a powerful political party. Not only do we need to build a strong and united force to achieve our goals, but we also need to work together with allied political forces to win the 2015 election."
Two rivals face off
Myanmar has undergone major changes since the 2011 shift to a quasi-civilian system, but is now seeing tensions between rival forces vying for power.
The rivalry between Thein Sein and Shwe Mann — two of the major establishment figures — came to a head in a late-night drama last Wednesday, when trucks with security personnel sealed off the headquarters of the party.
Thein Sein sacked Shwe Mann before the president's allies, under the presence of the security personnel, hosted late-night meetings at the USDP complex.
He purged Shwe Mann's faction from the party's executive committee.
Next week, Shwe Mann will face the emboldened presidential faction of his own party as the chamber reopens for the last session before the November 8 vote.
The president said in his remarks it was only the second time in recent years that he had attended a USDP leadership meeting, USDP lawmaker Hla Swe said in a post on his Facebook page.
Shwe Mann has said little since his sacking on what he plans to do.
In a Facebook post on Saturday, he said he would do nothing to endanger the country or the people, and that neither should anybody else.