USDP members and supporters rally in Naypyitaw during a campaign ahead of the 2020 general election.
The Myanmar military regime’s promulgation of a new Political Parties Registration Law has been condemned by parties and political observers as it effectively dissolves existing political parties in favor of the military’s proxy Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP).
The regime is planning to hold a poll later this year after seizing power from the elected National League for Democracy (NLD) government in 2021. The new law, announced on Thursday, requires political parties to reregister within 60 days or face dissolution.
Political parties contesting at the Union level must recruit at least 100,000 members within 90 days of their registration being approved, and must open offices in at least 150 of the country’s 330 townships within six months, the new law states.
It also requires them to deposit 100 million kyats (about US$35,000 at the unofficial rate) with a state-owned bank. Parties that are unable to meet these new requirements are not eligible to register.
Political parties say the new law was designed in favor of the military-backed USDP, and that it is utterly impossible for other parties to rally 100,000 members within three months given the current political situation.
Under the new law, only the USDP and the National League for Democracy (NLD) have the resources and capacity to run at the Union level.
The NLD has rejected the junta’s proposed poll and refuses to work with the junta-appointed Union Election Commission, saying it is illegal, like the regime itself.
The new law appears to be an attempt to kill two birds with one stone, as the NLD will be automatically dissolved if it fails to reregister.
Political parties contesting in a single region or state are required to rally at least 1,000 members within three months.
The regime has relaxed the rules for them because they don’t pose a threat to the USDP in the nationwide election, suggested observers.
The junta’s planned election has been condemned locally and internationally as a sham.
There are currently 91 registered political parties, and the new law will effectively dissolve some of them, said political observers.