Myanmar junta dissolves Suu Kyi’s party after election deadline

Myanmar military government dissolves former leader’s ousted ruling party Aung San Suu Kyi and 39 other parties, state media reported on Tuesday because they were unable to register for elections designed to extend army power.

The National League for Democracy (NLD) is among dozens of parliamentary parties that have been severely weakened by the 2021 military coup against Suu Kyi’s elected government and its crackdown on protests against his rule.

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 and named 40 parties that were automatically disbanded for failing to register by Tuesday’s deadline.

The election will almost certainly be swept up by the Allied Solidarity and Development Party (USDP), a military proxy who was defeated by the NLD in the 2015 elections and in the 2020 vote, which the generals eventually annulled, citing unresolved irregularities.

The hugely popular 77-year-old Nobel Prize winner Suu Kyi is among dozens of NLD members imprisoned since the coup, and is serving a 33-year sentence on multiple charges of corruption, violating state secrets law and incitement, among other crimes.

Tun Myint, a senior NLD official, said the party would never have registered to run in the elections 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 (NUG), which the junta has declared “terrorists”, said the military did not have the authority to hold fake elections.

“Political parties that respect the will of the people have not registered,” spokesman Zhuo Zau said.

leader of the junta Min Aung Hlaing on Monday called on international critics to support his efforts to restore democracy.

The elections will return Myanmar to a quasi-civilian democratic system that experts say the military can control, keeping the NLD out of sight.

Under the power-sharing agreement set out in the constitution, the military is guaranteed three ministerial portfolios, a quarter of all seats in the legislature, and a say in who is nominated for the presidency.

Richard Horsey, senior adviser to the International Crisis Group, said the elections are dangerous for the country.

“The majority of the population is vehemently opposed to participating in elections to legitimize the political control of the military, so we will see increased violence if the regime tries to impose the vote and resistance groups try to disrupt it,” said Horsey, who has been based in Myanmar for 15 years.