Supporters of the National League for Democracy hold portraits of party leader Daw Aung San Suu Kyi as they celebrate the NLD’s 2020 election victory outside its headquarters in Yangon on November 9 last year, a day after the vote. (AFP)
Supporters of the National League for Democracy hold portraits of party leader Daw Aung San Suu Kyi as they celebrate the NLD’s 2020 election victory outside its headquarters in Yangon on November 9 last year, a day after the vote. (AFP)

Junta’s election chief threatens to dissolve NLD over voter fraud

Union Election Commission chair Thein Soe told a meeting of political parties on Friday that National League for Democracy leaders could also be prosecuted as “traitors to the nation”.

By AFP

Chair of the junta-appointed Union Election Commission U Thein Soe has threatened to dissolve the National League for Democracy over alleged voter fraud in the 2020 election.

Thein Soe said on Friday that the investigation into November’s election result was almost complete and the commission would soon punish the party led by Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, who remains under house arrest in Nay Pyi Taw, similar to other top party leaders.

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

Military chief Senior General Min Aung Hlaing justified his February 1 power grab by making unsubstantiated claims of electoral fraud in the November poll, where the military-aligned Union Solidarity and Development Party suffered a humiliating loss to Aung San Suu Kyi’s party.

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 armed groups, as well as with recently formed civilian militias opposing the coup, sending tens of thousands of civilians fleeing their homes. 

Aung San 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.

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

Despite the voter fraud claims made by the military and USDP, 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 part of the NLD – joined with ethnic leaders last month to form a “National Unity Government” to undermine the junta. 

The junta later classified the group as “terrorists”, as the military moves to tighten its grip over a country in turmoil. 

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