Who is he?
U Than Htay most recently served in the Myanmar government as minister of rail transportation in Thein Sein’s Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) government from 2013 until August 2015, when he stepped down for an unsuccessful run for the lower house of Parliament in the 2015 general election. Before his tenure as rail transportation minister, Than Htay served as minister of energy, but was removed from that position in 2013 amid concerns over transparency in the awarding of oil and gas concessions. Than Htay is a retired brigadier general and received a master’s degree in defense from Myanmar’s Defense Services Academy.
Why is he in the news?
Than Htay on August 23 was elected chairman of the USDP, replacing former president Thein Sein. The leadership reshuffle came on the second day of the USDP’s party convention in an effort to rebuild the party following its 2015 election defeat. Thein Sein will retain an advisory role as the party’s chief patron.
What can we expect from him?
In his first speech as USDP chairman, Than Htay on August 24 announced that the party has no plans to change its policies ahead of Myanmar’s next general election in 2020, but that he is committed to leading the party to victory. In his new capacity, Than Htay will likely work to reinvigorate the party’s profile and promote the USDP as a party committed to serving the Burmese people.
Than Htay’s prior experience in various ministerial roles makes him well equipped to lead the USDP. His defense background will likely see him continue to advocate for the military’s role in a number of key areas, including the ongoing peace process, Myanmar’s political transition, security sector reform, civil-military relations, and natural resource management.