- Myanmar’s military junta has dissolved 40 political parties ahead of elections.
- This includes Aung San Suu Kyi’s party, which was imprisoned after the 2021 military coup.
- Australia, the UK, the US and Japan have criticized Myanmar for being a threat to democracy.
Australia expressed concern over the dissolution of Myanmar’s former ruling party and called on the military government to continue a more inclusive process to bring the country back to democracy.
Myanmar’s ruling junta on Tuesday disbanded Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy (NLD) and 39 other parties after they failed to register in an election that should tighten the army’s grip on power.
Myanmar has been in disarray since a military coup in early 2021 that upended a decade of conditional democracy when a bloody crackdown on protests led to an armed struggle against the junta. More than a million people have been displaced by the fighting, according to the UN.
deposed leader of Myanmar The 77-year-old woman is serving a 33-year prison sentence for various offenses, and dozens of her NLD allies are also in prison or have fled. The NLD repeatedly ruled out the possibility of participating in the elections, the date of which has not been set, calling them illegal.
The Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade said it was seriously concerned about the further narrowing of political space in Myanmar due to stringent electoral registration requirements.
It stated that all interested parties should be allowed to participate in the political process and warned that their exclusion could lead to further violence and instability.
“The people of Myanmar continue to demonstrate their courage and commitment to a democratic country in the face of increasing repression and violence by the regime,” the agency said in a statement.
“We will continue to closely monitor the actions of the regime and call for the restoration of democracy, including the holding of credible elections.”
A spokesman for the Myanmar military could not be contacted for comment. Its leader Min Aung Hlaing on Monday urged international critics to support his efforts to restore democracy.
Myanmar Chief Senior General Min Aung Hlaing. Source: Getty / Ye Aung Thu
Deputy State Department spokesman Vedant Patel told reporters that the United States “strongly condemns” the decision to abolish 40 political parties.
“Any election without the participation of all stakeholders in Burma (Myanmar) would not and cannot be considered free or fair,” Mr. Patel said.
The UK Foreign Office also criticized the dissolution of the NLD and other parties as “an attack on the rights and freedoms” of the people of Myanmar.
And Japan’s Foreign Ministry said that excluding the NLD would only “make it even more difficult to improve the situation” in Myanmar.
“Japan urges Myanmar to immediately release the NLD officials, including Suu Kyi, and show the way to a peaceful solution to the problem with the participation of all parties involved,” the statement said.
The elections are expected to return Myanmar to a quasi-civilian democratic system that experts say the military can control, keeping the NLD out of sight.
The polls, for which no date has been announced, come amid a deepening crisis in Myanmar, where the military is fighting on multiple fronts to crush ethnic minority armies and a resistance movement formed to counter their deadly crackdown on anti-coup dissent.
Live late Tuesday evening, state-run Myawaddy TV reported that 63 parties had registered locally or nationally, but named 40 parties that were automatically disbanded due to failing to register by Tuesday’s deadline.
Tun Myint, a senior NLD official, said the party would never have registered to vote because many of its members are in prison or “involved in the revolution.”
“It doesn’t matter if they say our party is dissolved or not. We stand with the support of the people,” Tun Myint told Reuters.
The shadow government of national unity, labeled “terrorists” by the junta, said the military did not have the authority to hold fake elections.