The National League for Democracy (NLD), Aung San Suu Kyi’s party, has been disbanded at midnight on Thursday after it refused to register with election authorities. (photo, from bbc.co.uk)
Following that, former members of Myanmar opposition leader’s party are reportedly planning to set up a new group in order to run in controversial national elections expected later this year.
On Thursday, a senior member of the NLD told the Reuters news agency that the new opposition party was to be called the National Democracy Force (NDF).
“We are planning to apply to the election commission for permission to set up a political party in a few days,” Khin Maung Swe, a former NLD committee member, said.
Asked about the fate of the NLD, he said: “It’s gone – no matter what [members opposed to standing in the election] keep saying.”
The new NDF party will be chaired by Than Nyein and involve former NLD figures Win Naing and Thein Nyunt, he said.
On March 29, members of the NLD voted unanimously to boycott the upcoming polls because election laws barred many of its senior figures from running.
Six days before the NLD boycott, Suu Kyi (photo, from aljazeera.net) said she “would not dream” of registering the party for the election.
According to Nyan Win, NLD lawyer and party spokesman, the party “may cease to exist under the law” but it would continue to carry out social activities while party members will individually engage in political activities.
“We will survive as long as we have public support,” he said.
The last election in the country took place in 1990 and was won by the NLD by a landslide. But the military government ignored the result and recently annulled it.
30 groups have applied in order to set up new political parties and 24 had been approved by May 4. New parties have until June 6 to apply.
Seventeen of those groups represent Myanmar’s numerous ethnic groups.
Six groups are believed to be allied with the military, which has ruled for almost 50 years.
Only four of 10 existing parties have applied to run. Three, including the National Unity Party (NUP), comprise former members of the pro-government Socialist Programme Party.
Prime minister Thein Sein is one of some 20 ministers who resigned from their military positions last week in order to run in the election as civilians.
Most of them are expected to join the Union Solidarity and Development Association (USDA). This new party represents a powerful government-backed social organisation that claims to have 24 million members, which is about half of Myanmar’s population.
The elections, which date has been kept a secret, have been widely criticised as being designed to entrench army rule by allowing the military to retain control over key ministries while pulling the strings behind a civilian-fronted government.
The 2008 constitution, which was approved by a disputed referendum, will allow the military 25% of parliamentary seats and a third of the senate.
Many of the other seats are expected to be taken up by former generals and allies of the government. This would limit the powers of any elected opposition.