The first election after Myanmar Military coup will supposedly be held on August, 2023. The upcoming general election doesn’t look promising according to Human Rights Watch (HRW).
Yesterday, HRW said, “Myanmar’s new political parties law will prevent key members of the political opposition from running in upcoming elections.”
The Myanmar Junta has drafted the “The Political Party Registration Law” which prohibits anyone previously convicted of a crime or serving a prison term from joining a political party. Such law creates barrier to the senior members of the National League for Democracy (NLD) including the ex De facto, Aung San Suu Kyi and President Win Myint, who are serving lengthy sentences on Junta charges.
A Myanmar researcher at Human Rights Watch, Manny Maung stated that, “Myanmar’s Junta adopted the Political Party Registration Law not only to rig the planned elections but to try to obtain legitimacy for a military-controlled state. The junta is creating a system to crush all political opposition and derail any possible return to democratic civilian rule.”
Apart from that, new military law states that existing political parties must re-register within 60 days of the law’s enactment or risk being dissolved, and disqualifies any political group declared as an “unlawful association or terrorist organization under any existing law.” The junta has already declared the opposition National Unity Government (NUG) and its parliamentary body, the Committee Representing the Pyidaungsu Hluttaw (the Union Parliament) as “terrorist organizations” for alleged attacks against the military since the coup.
Also, the law requires political groups seeking to put forward electoral candidates to have at least 100,000 members within 3 months of registering, a huge increase from 1,000 in the previous law, and a prohibitive bar for most parties.
It also requires national political parties to have funds of at least 100 million kyat (US$47,000) to qualify for registration, far more than most smaller parties can afford. For regional or state parties, the minimum amount required in the party coffers is 10 million kyat ($4,700).
The NLD responded to that as “steadfastly” and it refused to register. Other smaller parties, such as the Kayah State Democracy and the Kayan National Party also said they will not register and therefore face dissolution. Some ethnic minority parties such as the Shan Nationalities Democratic Party and the United Democracy Party have indicated they plan to register.
But the ongoing state emergency including new martial law orders in 37 additional townships and the Political Parties Registration Law fails to meet international standards in respecting the rights of political parties to organize and stand for election barely gives hope to have a fair election this year.
Concerned governments such as member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), Japan, and India, should condemn the political parties law and ensure that they do not lend credibility to the Junta’s attempt to legitimize military control through sham elections.