On March 28, Myanmar’s military junta dissolved 40 parties including the National League for Democracy (NLD), the party of ousted former leader Aung San Suu Kyi. This move comes ahead of the yet-to-be-scheduled “elections” by the country's ruling military – elections that the UN and the U.S. have labelled a “sham.” The NLD won a landslide victory in 2020, but Suu Kyi was jailed three months later, following the February 2021 coup.
Military seeking legitimacy
The 40 parties that were dissolved failed to submit an application to the Union Election Commission before the required 60-day deadline, necessitated by a law enacted on January 26. The law, which does not apply to new parties, would have automatically disqualified existing parties if they were unable to comply with various criteria, including the mobilization of at least 100,000 members within three months of registration and the establishment of party offices in at least 165 townships within six months.
The NLD, instead, decided to boycott the upcoming election, arguing that it would legitimize the military’s rule. In response to being delisted, the NLD stated that its existence is not based on a decision by the military, but rather on the support of the people.
Elections were expected by the end of July until the military announced that the state of emergency would be extended, on “security grounds,” by six months. Myanmar has been in disarray since the 2021 coup. The chaos has been compounded by the country’s struggling economy and civil conflict, the COVID-19 pandemic, and sanctions by Canada, the U.S., and EU. As a result of this turmoil, the junta has faced resistance in much of the country. With more than 3,100 people killed since the coup, the upcoming elections, if held, are expected to be one of the nation’s bloodiest, as resistance to the junta’s rule mounts across the country.