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USDP hits back at NLD’s fake news accusations

FILE PHOTO: USDP supporters rally during an election campaign in 2015. (PHOTO: DVB)

The opposition Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) has fired back at Burma’s ruling party, the National League for Democracy (NLD), and its senior executive member Win Htein for suggesting the USDP might be behind a series of fake news reports recently circulated on social media.

In a statement dated 6 May, the USDP said the NLD and Win Htein should take responsibility for his “heedless remarks,” which it considered hurtful to the party’s image, and detrimental to ongoing national reconciliation efforts led by the government.

The statement also condemned the NLD for its “poor performance” and for failing to fulfil its governmental responsibilities, including issues of national security and economic development.

The NLD’s Win Htein, speaking to reporters on 4 May, said it would be difficult to point a finger at whomever was responsible for circulating what he called “false rumours” about the NLD government; however, he hinted that the USDP and the Burmese military were possible suspects.

The veteran NLD statesman was apparently referring to reports on social media that President Htin Kyaw was on the verge of resigning.

“It is difficult to say who the suspects are [in this case], because we are hearing a lot [of speculation],” he told reporters. “Therefore, it would be difficult even to guess whether it was the USDP or some organisation within the Tatmadaw [Burmese armed forces], or just some IT experts who detest us.”

Following the USDP statement, Win Htein held another press conference on Sunday, at which he said he had not levelled an accusation against any individual or organisation on 4 May.

“In fact, I was talking about the various theories that it could be this person or that person. I made no accusations at all,” he said. “If I did accuse anyone, then it would be my responsibility. But now they [USDP] are taking offence even though there was no accusation aimed at them. So really, there’s nothing I can do about that.”

The military’s True News Information Team also released a statement “strongly condemning” Win Htein’s remarks and vowing to take the “necessary action.”

The USDP is widely regarded as the military’s proxy party. Under the leadership of President Thein Sein, it held power in Burma from 2011 till 2016, with the NLD winning a landslide November 2015 general election to wrest power from the USDP in Parliament and the executive branch.