Asia

Aung San Suu Kyi hails Shwe Mann as an 'ally'

Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi (left) with ousted governing party leader Shwe Mann (file photo) Image copyright AFP
Image caption Miss Suu Kyi said her NLD party would work with Shwe Mann

Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi has hailed Shwe Mann, recently ousted as chairman of the governing Union Solidarity and Development Party, as an "ally".

She was speaking as parliament reopened on Tuesday for its last session before November's national elections.

Last week Shwe Mann was dramatically removed from his position.

His dismissal was seen as an emphatic move by President Thein Sein to tighten his political grip ahead of the vote.

Speaking while MPs gathered in the capital Nay Pyi Taw for a final round of parliamentary meetings before the 8 November vote, Ms Suu Kyi said that Shwe Mann's dismissal by the president on Wednesday made it clear "who is the enemy and who is the ally".

She said that her National League for Democracy (NLD) party would work with the "ally".

Image copyright AP
Image caption The National League for Democracy leader is in the capital Nay Pyi Taw for the last meeting of parliament before elections in November
Image copyright EPA
Image caption The military still retains a big influence in Myanmar despite the introduction of political reforms from 2011 onwards

The Nobel laureate joined the US and Britain in expressing concern over the removal of Shwe Mann before the elections, which are the first since democratic reforms began in 2011.

"This is not what you expect in a working democracy," she said in relation to the circumstances of Shwe Mann's removal, adding that divisions within the USDP were likely to result in increased electoral support for the NLD.

Shwe Mann, who has retained his influential role as parliamentary speaker, has been widely seen as a possible compromise presidential candidate.

Ms Suu Kyi herself cannot run for the post under the terms of the 2008 constitution drafted by the military government.

One possible area of collaboration might be an amendment of the constitution to allow her to run for the presidency.

The government for its part on Tuesday has tried to downplay Shwe Mann's removal, which it described as "part of a normal course of business" for a political party.

Correction 20 August 2015: This story has been amended to make clear that Ms Suu Kyi has not made a formal alliance with Shwe Mann but that she regards him as an ally.

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