Myanmar Plans August Elections Under Strict New Rules

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Voters in Myanmar elections held in 2015
Voters in Myanmar elections held in 2015

Myanmar’s military has promised to hold elections by August this year, but strict new laws on political parties have raised questions about the freedom and fairness of the polls.

The new law, replacing rules from 2010, restricts parties and candidates deemed to have links to individuals or organizations “identified as committing terror activities” or seen as “unlawful.”

Parties that want to run in the national election must also have at least 100,000 members within three months of registration and deposit MMK 100 million (USD 45,500) into the state-owned Myanmar Economic Bank.

The law, signed by junta leader Min Aung Hlaing, was published in the state-run Global New Light of Myanmar on Friday.

The law could block Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy, which won a landslide in the 2020 election, if it is declared illegal or suspected of terrorism.

After the coup in 2021, the military initially announced that new elections would be held within a year, later backtracking and stating that the elections would take place by August 2023.

The 2021 coup has thrown Myanmar into a political crisis as the military’s ruthless assault on anti-coup protesters prompted citizens to take up arms and join forces with ethnic armed groups in the country’s border regions.

Over 3,000 people have been killed by the military since it seized power, including executions of journalists and activists.