Thursday, 14 November 2019

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Burmese PM pats USDA on the back


New Delhi (Mizzima) - Burma’s Prime Minister Lt-Gen Thein Sein on Sunday had a word of appreciation for leaders of the pro-junta civilian organization – the Union Solidarity and Development (USDA) – and encouraged them to continue with their social services for the community.

Thein Sein was speaking at the inauguration of the USDA annual meeting, which was attended by about 700 USDA representatives across the country. It is being held at Lewe Town in central Burma.

Sources in Lewe township USDA office told Mizzima that the organization , during the meeting, re-affirmed its pledge to carry out  ‘Orders’ given from ‘Above’, without explaining what the ‘Orders’ were and who the ‘Above’ meant.

The USDA led by the junta’s Minister for Agriculture and Irrigation Maj-Gen Htay Oo, will conclude the annual meeting on Friday following a dinner.

“Snr Gen Than Shwe is expected to attend the dinner party on Friday. He has not shown up yet,” the source said.

Though there has been speculation of the USDA being transformed into a political party, the source said, the meeting, attended by township and divisional level secretaries, did not have it on the agenda.  

“There was no discussion on transforming into a political party in the meeting. And so far we have not received any ‘Orders’ to do so,” said the source. However, he added that it is not impossible to transform, if there is an order from above.

While he refused to explain further about the ‘Orders’ and ‘Above’, the USDA has been known as a puppet organization of the military government that implements orders by the regime.

Burmese activists in exile have predicted that the USDA, whose Secretary General is Maj-Gen Htay Oo, is unlikely to transform into a political party to contest in the junta’s planned 2010 elections.

But many believe that the USDA while remaining a social organization and carrying out social services, would back a pro-junta party in the elections.

The USDA, formed by the junta supremo Snr. Gen Than Shwe in 1993, has a membership of over 20 million people of the 50 million population in Burma. And its patron members include Snr Gen Than Shwe, Vice-Snr Gen Maung Aye, General Thura Shwe Mann, Prime Minister General Thein Sein, Secretary-1 Lt-Gen Thiha Thura Tin Aung Myint Oo.

The USDA was used as a vital tool by the junta in suppressing the September 2007 protests, which was triggered by a sudden and sharp rise in the price of fuel. During the protest, members of the USDA blocked roads, harassed and arrested civilians, who were marching on the streets.

Members of the USDA were also reportedly deployed by the junta to attack the motorcade of pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi, who was on a political tour, near Debayin town of Upper Burma in May 2003.


Reporting by Salai Han Thar San, writing by Mungpi


 

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