YANGON • Myanmar's ousted ruling party chief narrowly survived a critical test, when lawmakers voted to suspend discussion of a controversial Bill that could have hastened his downfall amid the biggest political shake-up since the end of military rule.
The vote highlighted the support in Parliament for Mr Shwe Mann, who was dramatically removed as chairman of the ruling Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) by President Thein Sein last week but remains Speaker of the Lower House.
"It was a close call. It's maybe the second or third time ever that the Myanmar Parliament has been so split. It's extremely rare," said USDP lawmaker Win Oo, who has spoken in favour of suspending the Bill.
Myanmar's election commission had urged the Speaker to bring to a vote a Bill setting out provisions for removing a legislator from office. Under the Bill, lawmakers would lose their seats if 1 per cent of constituents signed a petition to recall them.
Mr Shwe Mann faces such a petition for his support in June of Bills to amend the Constitution and limit the military's role in politics.
In a legislative showdown yesterday, lawmakers postponed discussion on the Bill till the next session of Parliament, which will come after an election that opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy is expected to win.
The outcome was a testament to Mr Shwe Mann's still powerful backing in Parliament across party lines.