Myanmar Military Imposes New Laws on Parties Ahead of Elections

Myanmar’s military government, which took control in a coup two years ago, has introduced a new law concerning political parties that may cast doubt on the legitimacy of...

Myanmar’s military government, which took control in a coup two years ago, has introduced a new law concerning political parties that may cast doubt on the legitimacy of the upcoming elections planned for August. The new law, which replaces a previous law from 2010, prohibits parties and candidates from having connections to individuals or groups that are considered to be terrorist or illegal.

The new law also requires parties that wish to participate in the national election to have at least 100,000 members within three months of registration and to have funds of 100 million Myanmar kyat ($45,500), which is 100 times more than the previous requirement. These funds must be deposited with the state-owned Myanma Economic Bank. The law, which was signed by coup leader Min Aung Hlaing, was made public in the state-run Global New Light of Myanmar on Friday. The military overthrew the democratically elected government led by Aung San Suu Kyi and seized power on February 1, 2021, alleging, without evidence, that the previous election had been fraudulent. International monitors who observed the November 2020 election found it to be mostly free and fair. Aung San Suu Kyi, who is still very popular, has been in jail for over 30 years following secret trials on charges ranging from illegal possession of walkie-talkies to corruption, which many believe are a ploy to keep her out of the country’s political scene. Other senior members of her party, including removed President Win Myint, have also been tried and jailed.

The military government in Myanmar, which seized power in a coup two years ago, has announced a strict new law on political parties, which is likely to raise further questions about the fairness of the elections promised by August 2023. Despite widespread international criticism of the coup and sanctions from the United States and other countries, the military initially announced it would hold new elections within a year. But later, it backtracked to say they would be held between February and August 2023. The new law states that any existing party must apply for registration within two months of the legislation being announced or be “automatically invalidated”. Parties can also be suspended for three years, and ultimately dissolved, for failing to comply with the provisions of the new law. The legislation also says that parties are not allowed to lodge an appeal against election commission decisions on registration.

The coup has plunged Myanmar into a political crisis and has led to a brutal crackdown on anti-coup protests by the military, causing civilians to take up arms and join forces with ethnic armed groups in the country’s border regions. According to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners, a civil society group monitoring the crackdown, nearly 3,000 people have been killed by the military since it seized power. Thousands more have been detained and groups fighting against the military have been designated as “terrorists”.

Source: Al Jazeera

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