Burma Socialist Programme Party, Extraordinary Congress, July 1988

Burma Socialist Programme Party, Extraordinary Congress, July 1988
   (July 23-25, 1988)
   Sometimes referred to as the "Emergency Congress." In the face of rising popular opposition, Burma Socialist Programme Party (BSPP) Chairman Ne Win convened the congress a year earlier than scheduled to propose radical changes: the retirement of himself, party vice chairman (and president) San Yu, BSPP joint secretary general Sein Lwin, and three other top leaders; the holding of a popular referendum on whether the BSPP one-party system should be maintained, or scrapped in favor of a multiparty "democratic" system; and implementation of fundamental economic reforms (including foreign private investment). In his opening speech, Ne Win also gave his prophetic warning: "when the Army shoots, it shoots to hit; it does not fire into the air to scare." The congress concluded that while Ne Win and San Yu could retire, the other leaders should remain at their posts, and it rejected Ne Win's proposal of a referendum, citing economic rather than political reform as the first priority. On September 26, the BSPP Central Committee chose Sein Lwin as its new chairman, and on the 27th the Pyithu Hluttaw designated him president of the Socialist Union of the Republic of Burma. The much-hated Sein Lwin's assumption of power incited the massive protests of the Four Eights Movement.
   See also Democracy Summer.

Historical Dictionary of Burma (Myanmar). . 2014.

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