Myanmar rulers disband Suu Kyi’s NLD - GulfToday

Myanmar rulers disband Suu Kyi’s NLD

Aung San Suu Kyi

Aung San Suu Kyi

The military rulers of Myanmar which had overthrown the elected government of Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy in 2021 have now dissolved the NLD and other opposition parties that had refused to register their parties according to the new rules. The NLD and other parties argue that to fall in line and register their parties afresh would mean legitimising the military rulers, who have declared the intent to hold elections but no date has been set for it.  

The elections are to be held under the supervision of the military, and the military retains the prerogative to rule the country. The parties and the legislature will have a limited role. There is fierce resistance to the military’s election plans, and the NLD legislators who have been deposed have a formed a shadow National Unity Government. The military refuses to negotiate with the political class, and despite repression – NLD leader Suu Kyi is undergoing a 33-year imprisonment under various charges – the opposition forces are resisting.

Brussels-based think-tank Crisis Group’s Myanmar advisor Richard Horsey opines, “The majority of the population fiercely oppose going to the polls to legitimise the military’s political control, so we will see violence ratchet up if the regime seeks to impose a vote, and resistance groups seek to disrupt them.” It is the usual case that when a military which has taken over political reins wants to hold an election, it is seen as a conciliatory gesture towards political opposition. But in Myanmar, the military wants to hold controlled elections which would not people to vote freely, neither would it allow political parties to campaign freely.

It is still a matter of mystery as to why the military moved in to disrupt democracy when it had allowed elections to be held after its 1988 coup, and kept Suu Kyi under house arrest for 15 years between 1989 and 2010. When the military held elections in 2010, it was seen as a mere sham. The military had by then released Suu Kyi, and in the 2012 by-elections the NLD won 43 of the 46 seats it had contested. In 2015, the NLD won a major victory and the party again won in 2020. It is after this election victory of NLD, that the military had stepped in early 2021 and overthrew the democratically elected government on charges that there was election fraud.

The condemnation of the militay’s latest move of dissolving the NLD and 40 other political parties by Japan, the United States, the United Kingdom and Australia seems to follow a ritual process because the powerful Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN), of which Myanmar is a member, have not really stepped in to exert pressure. There is a suspicion that China supports the Myanmar military, but Myanmar’s Asean neighbours have other reasons to maintain silence, and it is mainly due to economic reasons.

It is to be noted that Myanmar had been under military rule after the 1962 coup, and Ne Win, the then military leader, adopted a socialist policy through his Burmese Socialist Programme Party (BSPP). So, military intervention in the post-independent history of Myanmar has been common. The NLD too fell foul in international eyes for its handling of the Rohingya issue, and Suu Kyi defended the military on the issue. So the fight between the military and civil society in Myanmar has a long history, and it is quite unlikely that civil society resistance would end.  It is a tribute to the people of Myanmar that even after years of military rule they have not given up their fight for democracy.

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