23 May 2024

MYANMAR (AFP): Myanmar’s junta has threatened to dissolve the political party of ousted civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi over alleged voter fraud in the 2020 election, an official said.

Union Election Commission chair Thein Soe said Friday the investigation into November’s election result was almost complete.

“What shall we do with the (National League for Democracy) party that (acted) illegally. Should we dissolve the party or charge those who committed this (illegal activity) as traitors of the nation? We will analyse and consider taking this action,” he said, in a video posted on a local media outlet’s Facebook account.

The election commission met with political parties on Friday to discuss potential changes to the electoral system but NLD representatives did not attend.

Junta leader Min Aung Hlaing has justified his February 1 power grab by citing alleged electoral fraud in the November poll won by Suu Kyi’s NLD party in a landslide.

On Thursday, local media reported the junta had removed a mandatory retirement age for generals, which would allow Min Aung Hlaing to continue serving once he turns 65 this July.

Myanmar has been in chaos and its economy paralysed since the putsch and more than 800 people have died as the military moved to crack down on protesters and dissent.

The coup and its aftermath have also seen a spike in clashes between the military and Myanmar’s numerous ethnic rebel armies, sending tens of thousands of civilians fleeing their homes.

Suu Kyi has not been seen in public since she was taken under house arrest.

She was subsequently hit with a series of criminal charges, and her legal team has faced an uphill battle to get a private audience with their client.

The charges include flouting coronavirus restrictions during last year’s election campaign and possessing unlicensed walkie-talkies.

The most serious charge alleges that she violated the country’s colonial-era Official Secrets Act.

Suu Kyi is expected to appear in person in court Monday for the first time, after weeks of delays with her legal case.

NLD secured an absolute majority in Myanmar’s election in November, in a poll disputed by the military-aligned opposition and criticised by rights groups.

The Asian Network for Free Elections monitoring group has said “the results of the 2020 general elections were, by and large, representative of the will of the people of Myanmar.”

A group of ousted lawmakers — many of them previously part of the NLD — have formed a shadow “National Unity Government” to undermine the junta.

Myanmar’s junta later declared the group would now be classified as “terrorists”, as the military moves to tighten its grip over a country in turmoil.