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Another Blow to Democracy in Burma

(FILE) Myanmar soldiers walk along a street during a protest in Myanmar.

The United States strongly condemns Burma’s military regime for dissolving 40 political parties right before a general election.

A Blow to Democracy in Burma
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The United States strongly condemns Burma’s military regime for dissolving 40 political parties, including the National League for Democracy or NLD.

The NLD decisively won the 2020 election in Burma, but the military staged a coup in 2021 and brutally cracked down on protests to its rule. Prominent elected leaders including Aung San Suu Kyi and deposed President Win Myint are currently serving jail sentences in a prison in Burma on politically motivated charges; many other NLD members have also been imprisoned.

The military regime’s purported reason for dissolving the 40 political parties is their failure to register under a new law for a general election whose date has not yet been announced. The NLD said it would not register because the election authorities had been established by the country’s “illegitimate military council.”

State Department Principal Deputy Spokesperson Vedant Patel said, “Any election without the participation of all stakeholders in Burma would not be and cannot be considered free or fair. And given the widespread opposition to military rule, the regime’s unilateral push towards elections likely will escalate instability.”

Instability is not what the citizens of Burma need. Tragically, since the coup two years ago and the crackdown by the regime, over 3,000 people have been killed; nearly 17,00 detained; and more than 1.3 million people have been displaced. The most recent human rights report on Burma by the U.S. State Department notes, “Members of the regime security forces continued to commit atrocities and numerous gross violations of human rights across the country.”

The move by the regime to dissolve dozens of political parties before a general election has been met with international condemnation. Japan said it was “seriously concerned” that the move “will make it even more difficult to improve the situation.” France called the regime’s action “another step backwards when it comes to freedom of expression and assembly.” The United Kingdom described it as “an assault on the rights and freedoms of the [Burmese] people.”

Two years ago, the military interrupted Burma’s decades-long and hard-fought democratic progress. The United States will not waver in its commitment to the aspirations of the people of Burma, and, as State Department Spokesperson Patel declared, will “continue to support efforts by all those working to establish a genuine and inclusive democracy in Burma.”