Myanmar: Junta Announces Strict Election Law Ahead of Polls

    Myanmar: Junta Announces Strict Election Law Ahead of Polls
    Last updated Jan 27, 2023
    Image credit: AFP [via Al Jazeera]


    • Myanmar's military junta published on Friday a tough new law on political parties that replaces a 2010 legislation and bars parties and candidates deemed unlawful or allegedly linked to those committing terrorist acts.[1]
    • This comes as the country's leader Gen. Min Aung Hlaing announced that elections will be held in August this year in accordance with constitutional provisions after the end of the military-imposed two-year emergency period.[2]
    • The 20-page new election law requires political parties to have at least 100K members within three months from the date of getting approval. It also requires a deposit of $43K at a state-owned bank, to open offices in at least half of the country's 330 townships within six months after registering, and to compete in at least half of all constituencies and by-elections.[3]
    • Any existing political party will have to apply for registration within two months of the announcement to prevent being "automatically invalidated," and also being subject to suspension for three years and dissolution for failing to comply with the law.[1]
    • Under the new law, only two of the 91 registered political parties reportedly have the capacity and resources to run at the national level: the military-backed Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) and the National League for Democracy (NLD), which was ousted from office in 2021 and has since refused to work with the junta-appointed Union Election Commission.[4]
    • The NLD-led shadow National Unity Government (NUG) has urged people to boycott what they claimed will be a bogus election, an allegation also made by US Secretary of State Antony Blinken in November.[3]


    Pro-establishment narrative

    This legislation was brought forward to favor the military's proxy Union Solidarity and Development Party in the upcoming nationwide rigged election. It will likely be the last nail in the coffin of Myanmar's political parties, effectively dissolving the National League for Democracy and other existing ones.

    Establishment-critical narrative

    This new law is necessary as it prevents political parties violating the constitution from being able to register. It also propels them to join forces to increase their representativeness as Myanmar prepares to hold a free and fair election this year.

    Establishment split