International Community Condemns Myanmar Junta for NLD Dissolution

By The Irrawaddy 30 March 2023

The Myanmar junta’s dissolution of the country’s most popular party, the National League for Democracy (NLD), and dozens of other pro-democracy parties ahead of its slated election has drawn wide international condemnation.

The junta-stacked election commission on Tuesday announced the ousted ruling NLD party led by Daw Aung San Suu Kyi would be dissolved along with 39 other parties for failing to re-register under a tough new military-drafted electoral law.

A day after the announcement, the United States, Britain, Japan, France, Germany, and Australia strongly condemned the decision, saying the move was another step backwards.

US State Department deputy spokesperson Vedant Patel told reporters on Wednesday that any election without the participation of all stakeholders in Myanmar could not be considered free or fair.

A spokesperson for the German Federal Foreign Office also said on Wednesday that the dissolution of the NLD and other 39 parties was further evidence that the elections announced by the military regime would be a farce and would not be safe, free or fair under the current conditions.

The dissolution of the parties threatens a further escalation of violence in Myanmar and a more rapid destabilization of the country, the spokesperson added.

The UK and France also condemned the regime’s decision to dissolve the NLD and other parties, calling it “a further assault on the rights and freedoms of the Myanmar people.”

“We condemn the military regime’s politically motivated actions and their use of increasingly brutal tactics to sow fear and repress opposition,” a UK Foreign Office spokesperson said.

Japan’s foreign ministry and the Australian government have also expressed their serious concerns over the further narrowing of political space in Myanmar following the junta’s dissolution of political parties.

The Japan foreign ministry said the exclusion of the NLD from the political process will make it even more difficult for the situation to improve.

“The Government of Japan strongly urges the Myanmar military to immediately release NLD officials, including State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi, and to show a path toward a peaceful resolution of the issue in a manner that includes all relevant parties.”

The military justified its February 2021 coup with unsubstantiated claims of widespread fraud in the 2020 elections won by the NLD, and detained its chairperson Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and other senior leaders, lawmakers, and members. Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, 77, has since been sentenced to a total of 33 years in prison.

The disbanding of the parties comes as the junta forges ahead with its plans to hold the so-called election despite national rage that has spilled into violence following the coup.

The election has been rejected by democratic forces and major political parties, as well as ethnic groups as a sham.

Out of 92 existing parties, only around 50, mostly with military links, applied to reregister with the junta. A dozen newly formed parties also registered, putting the total number at 63.

In response to the regime’s announcement, the NLD stated that the regime and its election commission have neither the right to dissolve nor the right to approve lawfully established political parties.

“As long as there are people, the party will exist to implement the vision of people through all means,” the NLD said.

The joint general secretary of the Democratic Party for a New Society also said the announcement by war criminals to disband the party would have no effect on it as the political party will exist as long as the people support it.

But the junta’s announcement would enable the people to differentiate the parties between those allied with the junta and not, she added.