‘We Agree the Law is Unfair’: SNLD

By The Irrawaddy 1 February 2023

Myanmar’s regime has passed its Political Parties Registration Law ahead of its planned general election this year.

Observers and politicians say the law favors the military’s proxy Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP).

It requires parties running nationally to recruit at least 100,000 members within 90 days of registration and have offices in at least 150 of Myanmar’s 330 townships within six months. They must also deposit 100 million kyats with a state-owned bank.

Parties contesting seats in one state or region must recruit 10,000 members and run offices in at least five townships and deposit 10 million kyats.

Parties have 60 days to re-register with the junta-appointed Union Election Commission or they will be dissolved.

The National League for Democracy, Myanmar’s most popular party, has called the planned election a sham.

Sai Leik, general secretary of the powerful Shan Nationalities League for Democracy, recently talked to The Irrawaddy about the new law.

What is your view on the Political Parties Registration Law?

The law is designed to enable the USDP to form a government so the military can dominate politics. It bars ethnic parties from operating nationally. The law’s restrictions discourage political parties.

Will your party contest the election?

Our central executive committee has not met since this law came out so I can’t say. We agree the law is unfair. It is easier to set up a political party at the region or state level. But nationally a party must deposit 100 million kyats and recruit 100,000 members. It was clearly designed for a big party.

We will see if the election will take place as planned. We might re-register just to maintain our status as a party. We are yet to decide.

Parties will be dissolved if they don’t contest the election. How will you engage in Shan politics if that happens?

We registered as a political party at independence in 1948 but we could not engage properly in politics until the 1990 general election. Until then our political involvement was sporadic.

The purpose of a party is to represent the people. If we can operate officially as a party under this law then we will. But if we can’t represent people and there is no room for us to stand as a party we will choose other options. We have gone through many years without having a party.

Our party may cease to exist when there is no justice, freedom and fairness.