The political party led by Myanmar’s ousted leader Aung San Suu Kyi is among 40 parties which have been dissolved by a military-appointed election commission.
According to state television, the National League for Democracy (NLD) party was disbanded after it failed to meet the registration deadline for the election, which is set to perpetuate the military’s political dominance.
In a nightly news bulletin, Myawaddy TV said 63 parties had registered for the election at local or national level and that NLD and 39 others were being automatically disbanded after failing to sign up.
The political party led by the ousted leader won a landslide victory in the November 2020 general election, but months later, the army kept Suu Kyi and all the elected lawmakers from taking their seats in parliament, and top members of her government were detained.
Ms Suu Kyi, 77, is serving prison sentences totalling 33 years after being convicted in a series of politically tainted prosecutions brought by the military.
The army said it acted because of a massive poll fraud, though independent election observers did not find any major irregularities. Some critics of Senior Gen. Min Aung Hlaing, who led the takeover and is now Myanmar’s top leader, believe he acted because the vote thwarted his own political ambitions.
No date has been set for the new polls. They had been expected by the end of July, but in February the military announced an unexpected six-month extension of its state of emergency, delaying the possible legal date for holding an election.
The military government also enacted a new political party registration law in January that makes it difficult for opposition groups to mount a serious challenge to its favoured candidates. It sets conditions such as minimum levels of membership and candidates and offices that any party without the backing of the army would find hard to meet, especially in the repressive political atmosphere.
The new law declared that existing political parties had to re-apply for registration with the election commission within two months after it took effect — by 28 March — and those that fail will be “automatically invalidated” and considered dissolved.
It also says the party has to entrust its properties to the government if it is dissolved of its own volition or when its registration is cancelled under the law.
The NLD rejected the law just days after it was announced, saying at the same time that the military-planned polls are illegal and amount to a “sham election.” It declared that any individuals and entities cooperating in the polls with the military will be deemed as accomplices in high treason.
Former party lawmaker Bo Bo Oo said that a 21 March meeting of the party’s Central Working Committee reaffirmed the decision not to register, and considers the election commission and registration law illegitimate.