YANGON: Myanmar’s junta-stacked election commission announced on Tuesday that National League for Democracy party of Aung San Suu Kyi would be dissolved for failing to re-register under a tough new military-drafted electoral law, said the state media.
The military also justified its February 2021 coup with unsubstantiated claims of widespread fraud in the 2020 elections won by the Kyi’s NLD, ending 10 years of democratic experiment and plunging the country into chaos. In January this year, the Junta gave the political parties two months time to re-register under a strict new electoral law ahead of fresh elections it has promised to hold but which its opponents believe will neither be free nor fair.
Out of the 90 existing parties, only 50 had applied to re-register under the new law, state broadcaster MRTV said. The rest would be dissolved by Wednesday. Suu Kyi cofounded the National League for Democracy party in 1988, and won a landslide victory in the 1990 elections that were subsequently annulled by the then-junta.
The Kyi’s party carried the torch for democratic aspirations in military-ruled Myanmar and later won crushing victories over the military-backed parties in 2015 and 2020 elections. The party’s leadership was decimated in the junta’s bloody crackdown on dissent, with one former lawmaker executed by the junta, marking the country’s first capital punishment in decades. Some political leaders in exile had previously called for the party leadership not to re-register under the new law.
The new rules stipulate any party wishing to contest polls countrywide must mobilise at least 100,000 party members within three months of registration being granted and open offices in at least 50 percent of the country’s townships within six months. Those unable to do the same will “lose their status” as a political party, read the new election rules.
The junta give no details on how those numbers would be verified across the crisis-hit country, where the military is struggling to crush resistance to its coup while rights groups accuse Junta of massive intimidation. The military-backed Development Party and Union Solidarity had applied to re-register, according to a junta statement.
Junta vows further crackdown
In February, the military announced a six-month extension of a two-year state of emergency and postponed polls it had assured to hold by August because it did not control enough of the territiory for a vote to happen.
On Monday, junta chief Min Aung Hlaing vowed no let up in the crackdown on opponents and told thousands of soldiers at an annual parade that polls would be held. However, he did not give a timeline in this regard. “The Myanmar regime is preparing for national polls that, if imposed by force, are supposedly to be the bloodiest in country’s recent history,” said International Crisis Group’s senior adviser on Myanmar, Richard Horsey. “The majority of the population fiercely opposes going to the elections to legitimise the military’s political control over the country, so we will see violence ratchet up if the regime seeks to impose a vote,” he said.
Suu Kyi has been detained since the coup in February 2021. In December last year, the junta wrapped up a series of closed-court trials of the 77 years old Nobel laureate, jailing her for a total of 33 years in a process the rights groups have condemned as a sham.
A spokesman for UN chief Antonio Guterres said the dissolution of the NLD was “another step in the direction that we would not like to be going,” and called for the release of Suu Kyi. The putsch sparked renewed fighting with ethnic rebels and birthed dozens of anti-junta “People’s Defence Forces”, with swathes of Myanmar now ravaged by fighting and the economy in shambles.
It is to mention here that more than 3,100 people have been killed and over 20,000 arrested since the coup, according to a local monitoring group. AFP/APP