The Myanmar Military Regime Disbands Aung San Suu Kyi's Political Party

The political party of imprisoned Myanmar opposition leader Daw Aung San Suu Kyi has been formally dissolved, another blow to the Southeast Asian country's democracy, two years after the military staged a coup.

The party, the National League for Democracy, was dissolved by Myanmar's military-appointed election commission, state media said late Tuesday. The announcement sets the stage for an election that will likely keep the junta in power for years to come.

The NLD described the upcoming election as a sham and said it would not participate. But when the party failed to register with the election commission, Myanmar's state television, MRTV, said the NLD as well as 39 other opposition parties would be disbanded.

The NLD has won by a landslide in the previous three elections. In the last election held in November 2020, the party won 82 percent of the available seats in parliament. But before the new Parliament could be installed on February 1, 2021, the military staged a coup, detaining Aung San Suu Kyi and other top NLD officials.

Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi, 77 years old, has been sentenced to 33 years in prison. The military regime accused him of various charges, including corruption and violation of the official secrecy law. The United Nations and international human rights groups have condemned the prosecutions, saying they were politically motivated with a view to removing Aung San Suu Kyi from power.

After the coup, the NLD leaders who escaped arrest, as well as politicians from other parties, formed a new government called the Government of National Unity. The organization operates in seclusion and has not been recognized by any international body. They also support an armed rebel group, called the People's Defense Forces, which has engaged in violent clashes against the military, which is now fighting for control of large parts of the country.

Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi has long been a thorn in the side of Myanmar's generals, who see her immense popularity as a threat to military might. He was previously held at home for nearly 15 years until 2010, winning the Nobel Peace Prize in 1991 in recognition of his fight for democracy.

Even though Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi is still revered by many in Myanmar, most of the country now looks to her for guidance. In the two years since the coup, a younger, more progressive—and confrontational—generation has emerged, reshaping politics and society.

The junta initially said this year's general elections would be held in August, but in February announced a six-month extension of the state of emergency, delaying the vote without providing a new date. Senior General Min Aung Hlaing, head of the junta, said the military could not guarantee voter safety because dozens of townships were not under military control.

Fifty political parties have registered to contest the election and 13 have registered, according to state media. The UN Special Rapporteur on human rights in Myanmar, Tom Andrews, has urged international organizations and election monitoring groups not to provide technical support in elections and risk giving legitimacy to the regime.

“Instead, they should explicitly denounce what would be a comical exercise designed to perpetuate military control of Myanmar's political system,” Andrews said in a report.