Myanmar junta enacts new political party law
The junta in Myanmar enacts new law on political parties, limiting political activity and hindering parties seeking to run in the upcoming general election.
The junta in Myanmar enacted a new law regarding the registration of political parties, which would reportedly make it difficult for the opposition to amass enough impetus to even constitute a threat to the government in the general election set for later in the year.
The law, published on Friday in the state-run Myanma Alinn newspaper, sets minimum funding and membership levels for parties partaking in the upcoming general election while banning any parties or candidates deemed unlawful or linked to organizations declared by Naypyidaw to be "terrorist groups".
The military seized power in Myanmar back in February 2021 using a constitutional mechanism allowing for the transfer of power during an emergency situation. The toppling of the government caused major civil unrest in the country.
According to the text published in Myanma media, the new law gives parties two months to register with the Union Election Commission, stressing that those that do not would be "automatically invalidated" and considered dissolved.
In order to compete nationwide, parties would need to attain a minimum of 100,000 members three months after being registered - 100 times higher than the minimum set in the law used in the 2020 election.
Additionally, parties are required to open offices in at least half of the country's 330 townships within six months of being registered and must be able to contest in at least 50% of all constituents.
The announcement of the new law came four days after Senior General Min Aung Hlaing, the country’s military ruler, called at a Cabinet meeting for a new law that structures the political party system in a manner that reduces the number of parties. He said the election could be held once a state of emergency is declared after the army’s takeover is lifted, an action that is expected at the end of this month.
Former State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi and then-President Win Myint were put under house arrest. San Suu Kyi, 77, has since been sentenced to over 20 years in prison by the junta.
Suu Kyi was imprisoned on five counts of corruption linked to the employment, procurement, and maintenance of a helicopter that resulted in a "loss to the state," as per the source.
Suu Kyi, 77, has been imprisoned by the military since the 2021 coup and has been convicted on every crime leveled against her, from embezzlement to illegally having walkie-talkies and violating Covid rules.
In its first resolution on the situation in Myanmar since the coup, the UN Security Council adopted Wednesday a resolution on Myanmar calling for the release of former State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi, former President Win Myint, as well as all prisoners detained at the hands of the Myanmar junta.
Myanmar has been in chaos since the military took power. According to the United Nations Children's Agency, over one million individuals have been displaced since the coup.
Moreover, it was discovered earlier in January that Israeli fingerprints were found in the Myanmar 2021 military coup after Reuters got its hands on new documents.
Shortly before the coup, Israeli Cognyte Software Ltd (CGNT.O) won a tender to provide the state-owned telecommunications company with advanced spyware that enables the government to monitor network users and intercept their activity.
A complaint presented by Israeli lawyer Eitay Mack to the Israeli attorney general said the deal was carried out despite an Israeli Supreme Court ruling in 2017 that bans arms sales to Myanmar's junta.
The complaint was signed by over 60 Israelis, "including a former speaker of the house, as well as prominent activists, academics and writers," Reuters reported.
According to the report, an activist group called Justice for Myanmar provided the tender documents to the news agency and Mack.
The documents reveal that Myanmar Posts and Telecommunications (MPT) issued a letter on January 2021 to reward Cognyte with the contract for the spyware technology.
This is not the first time the Israeli spyware company comes under fire for enabling malicious activities.
Facebook's parent company Meta stated in a report that Cognyte "enables managing fake accounts across social media platforms."
According to the US tech giant, its investigations found that the cyber firm had clients in several countries such as Mexico, Indonesia, and Kenya, who targeted journalists and politicians among others.
"Myanmar's junta is using invasive telecoms spyware without legal safeguards to protect human rights," a Reuters report added, citing industry specialists and activists.