Myanmar’s ruling party to nominate Thein Sein for second term

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Yangon (dpa) – Myanmar President Thein Sein has the support of his party to seek a second term in the November general elections, officials said Saturday.

“President (U) Thein Sein is party chairman, and the party has decided to nominate him if we win the enough seats in election,” said Tin Naing Thein, secretary of ruling Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP).

The decision was made since before the ouster of Shwe Man, a powerful political rival of Thein Sein in the party, in August, he said.

“We believe only President Thein can lead the country as well as the party,” he said.

Shwe Mann replaced Thein Sein as USDP chairman in 2011 after the president had embarked on a series of political and economic reforms.

But he antagonised the powerful military by forging relations with opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi and backing her campaign to change the constitution, which grants the generals sweeping political powers.

The November 8 elections will be a test if where Myanmar is headed in its transformation from an authoritarian nation to a democratic one.

Many political analysts observers predict the opposition National League for Democracy (NLD) will win a majority of parliamentary seats, overtaking from the USDP, which is largely comprised of former military officers.

But Tin Naing Thein insisted that the ruling party will win the required seats to remain in power.

“We are confident that we will lead the cabinet again,” he said.

Even if the NLD wins more seats than any other party, Myanmar’s electoral system will probably keep it from exercising power. Of 664 seats in both houses of parliament, 166 seats are reserved for appointed military members, according to the army-drafted 2008 constitution.

The NLD would need to win 333 of the contested seats to gain a ruling majority. Byy contrast, the USDP would need 167 seats, given the army’s quota.

The ruling party won the majority of seats in the 2010 elections that ended half a century of military rule in the country.

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