Aung San Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy was one of 40 parties dissolved by Myanmar's military government for failure to register with the electoral commission ahead of a general election. The NLD said the commission was an illegitimate body set up to preside over "phoney elections." File Photo by Monika Graff/UPI | License Photo
March 29 (UPI) -- Myanmar's military government moved Wednesday to dissolve dozens of opposing parties including Aung San Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy.
The country's election commission dissolved 40 parties in all, according to a statement published in a state newspaper, on grounds that they had failed to register for a general election, the date of which has yet to be determined.
NLD said it did not recognize the election commission because it had been set up by the country's "illegitimate military council."
"To be clear, any election process that elevates the chief of defense, Min Aung Hlaing, to the position of President Min Aung Hlaing through phony elections will not be recognized by us, and we will oppose it at all costs," said Yangon region executive committee secretary Tun Myint.
"The demands of the people are to overthrow the military dictatorship, establish federal democracy, and ensure that there is no military influence in Myanmar's democracy going forward."
But the announcement in the Global New Light of Myanmar said the Tuesday registration deadline had been met by 50 other parties, many of them pro-military or anti-NLD.
Effectively holding all 664 seats in both houses of parliament would tighten the stranglehold on power of the Tatmadaw military dictatorship, which ousted Suu Kyi's democratically elected government in a coup in February 2021.
The move came under swift condemnation from the International community, which has repeatedly called on the junta government to relinquish the helm of the country back to civilian rule.
"This decision is yet another demonstration of the blatant disrespect by the military regime for democracy and the rights and wishes of the Myanmar population, and demonstrates the military regime's determination to eradicate any democratic and peaceful opposition to its rule," Josep Borrell, high representative for foreign affairs at the European Union, said Wednesday in a statement.
A spokesperson with Britain's Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office similarly condemned the junta's dissolution of the political parties, stating that London will work with its partners to force Myanmar to stop committing violence against its people and create space for dialogue.
In Washington, D.C., State Department deputy spokesman told reporters during a press briefing that the dissolution of the political parties undermines the potential of upcoming elections.
"If you are going to remove 40 parties from their ability to participate in those elections, essentially having elections without the participation of all of the appropriate stakeholders, then, yes, that is an election that would not be considered free and fair," he said.
The military imposed a year-long state of emergency, which saw State Counsellor Suu Kyi and President Win Mint and other senior political leaders detained and an ongoing brutal crackdown on protestors opposing the coup, which has resulted in the deaths of 3,166 people, according to the Thailand-based Assistance Association for Political Prisoners.
In February, the government extended the state of emergency by six months and postponed indefinitely a general election scheduled for August.
Suu Kyi, Mint and the political leaders remain in custody along with 17,000 of the 20,877 people jailed since the military coup, many of them from the NLD.
In December, a military court sentenced Nobel Peace Prize laureate Suu Kyi to another seven years in prison for corruption after finding her guilty of five charges pertaining to the misuse of state funds for the purchase and lease of a helicopter.
"Since seizing power almost two years ago, Myanmar's military has turned the courts and prison system into a human rights inferno in which journalists, activists, politicians, doctors, protesters and many others are jailed for nothing more than peacefully expressing dissent," said Amnesty International's Regional Director Meg de Ronde.
The latest conviction means Suu Kyi now faces a total of 33 years in prison on charges ranging from accepting bribes, illegally possessing walkie-talkies and leasing government-owned land at discounted rates. She denies all the charges.