Shwe Mann’s party to spend billions of kyats on election 

The newly-formed party of former junta leader Shwe Mann will spend billions of kyat on this year’s general election and will contest every seat in the Union Parliament, the retired general has said. 

The Union Betterment Party will use funds collected from supporters when it was founded last year for a campaign to elect over 900 candidates at local and national level, he told an online press conference on Thursday.

“I cannot tell the exact amount, but I suppose it will cost billions including election expenses and party registration fees,” he said. 

The party has opened more than 8,000 branches and local party offices across 255 townships, he added. The party is aiming to win between 40 and 50% of seats, including regional ones, this year, he said.  

He did not disclose which constituency he plans to represent in the election. 

Shwe Mann lost his independent bid for a seat on his hometown of Phyu in the 2015 general election after positioning himself as an across-the-aisle ally of Aung San Suu Kyi.  

The loss, he later wrote, meant he no longer needed to keep a pistol under his pillow, since his enemies were satisfied. 

Shwe Mann was ousted from his post as chairman of the Union Solidarity and Development Party in August 2015 after running afoul of top party officials and senior military figures. 

Security forces surrounded his home in Naypyitaw during the ouster, which also quelled speculation that he was next in line for the Presidency.  

Senior General Than Shwe regarded Shwe Mann as a traitor, according to former minister Ye Htut.

As lower house speaker in 2012, Shwe Mann appointed Aung San Suu Kyi to chair the powerful Rule of Law committee. 

The NLD leader returned the favour after her party came to power in 2016, appointing Shwe Mann as the head of the Commission for the Assessment of Legal Affairs and Special Issues.

Thura Shwe Mann graduated from the Defence Services Academy, Intake 11 and served as the official operations coordinator of the army, navy and air force, the third most powerful position under the military government. 

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