The new rules, announced in state media, appear to be designed to ensure that there is no meaningful opposition to the military.
Myanmar’s military, which seized power in a coup nearly two years ago, has announced a tough new law on political parties that is likely to raise further questions about the fairness of elections promised by August.
The law, which replaces legislation from 2010, bans parties and candidates deemed to be associated with individuals or organizations “designated as perpetrators of terrorist acts” or deemed “illegal”.
Parties wishing to contest national elections will also need to secure at least 100,000 members within three months of registration and have funds of 100 million Myanmar kyat ($45,500), 100 times more than before. The money must be deposited with the state-owned Myanmar Economic Bank.
The law, signed by coup leader Min Aung Hlaing, was published in the state-run Global New Light of Myanmar magazine on Friday.
The military detained elected leader Aung San Suu Kyi and took power on February 1, 2021, after elections that convincingly returned her National League for Democracy to office.
The generals claimed without evidence that there was fraud in the survey. International observers observing the November 2020 elections assessed that they were largely free and fair.
Aung San Suu Kyi, who remains hugely popular, has been imprisoned for more than 30 years after secret trials on charges ranging from illegal possession of a walkie-talkie to corruption that critics say are designed to remove her from the country’s political life. Other senior members of her party, including ousted president Win Myint, were also tried and imprisoned.
Amid widespread international criticism of the coup and sanctions from the United States and other countries, the military initially announced it would hold new elections within a year. Then it backed out and said it would take place between February and August 2023.
The new law states that any existing party must apply for registration within two months of the law being published or it will be “automatically cancelled”. Parties can also be suspended for three years, and ultimately dissolved, for non-compliance with the provisions of the new law.
The law also states that parties may not appeal the electoral commission’s decisions on registration.
The coup plunged Myanmar into political crisis as the military’s brutal crackdown on anti-coup protests prompted civilians to take up arms and join forces with ethnic armed groups in the country’s border areas.
The military has killed nearly 3,000 people since it took power, according to the Association for Aid to Political Prisoners, a civil society group that monitors the crackdown.
Thousands of others have been detained with groups fighting against the military and labeled as “terrorists”.