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Myanmar junta to dissolve Suu Kyi’s NLD party, step up security at China border

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An anti-coup protester holds up a sign calling for the release of Aung San Suu Kyi Naypyidaw. File photo: AFP

Myanmar’s junta-appointed election commission will dissolve Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy party (NLD) because of what it said was fraud in a November election, a local news outlet reported on Friday.

Myanmar Now said the decision was made during a meeting with political parties that was boycotted by many parties including the NLD.

The election fraud conducted by the NLD was illegal “so we will have to dissolve the party’s registration”, the chairman of the junta-backed Union Election Commission (UEC), Thein Soe, was cited in the report as saying.

“Those who did that will be considered as traitors and we will take action,” said Thein Soe.

A spokesman for the junta and for a pro-democracy national unity government, which includes ousted members of the NLD, did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

A spokesman for the military-backed Union Solidarity and Development Party said it had representatives at the meeting, which was still going on, and he was not aware of the outcome.

Myanmar’s army took power alleging fraud in a November election that was swept by the party of Suu Kyi, who fought for democracy for decades before tentative reforms began a decade ago. The electoral commission at the time had rejected the army’s complaints.

The security forces have killed more than 800 people since a wave of protests broke out after coup, the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners activist group says.

The turmoil has alarmed Myanmar’s neighbours and the broader international community, but the generals have shown no sign of any intention of seeking a compromise with the pro-democracy movement.

Since her arrest hours before the coup, Suu Kyi has been held in detention and faces numerous charges filed in two courts, the most serious under a colonial-era official secrets act, punishable by 14 years in prison.

Suu Kyi, 75, has been permitted to speak with lawyers only via a video link in the presence of security personnel. Her co-defendant is Win Myint, the ousted president.

Opponents of the military have formed a National Unity Government, which operates under cover or through members based abroad. It has announced it is setting up of a People’s Defence Force to challenge the junta.

Earlier on Friday, state media said the military will strengthen security in a restive region bordering China following a string of rebel ambushes on energy supply lines that have worsened a crippling fuel shortage for the junta.

In recent days insurgents in Kachin and Shan States have targeted trucks they say are supplying fuel for military air strikes against their fighters and the transport of troops.

Two privately-owned trucks were destroyed near Sumprabum in Kachin, state-run Global New Light of Myanmar said on Friday, the latest in a string of ambushes that has contributed to “fuel shortages and high commodity prices.”

“It is reported security forces are stepping up security in the area,” it added, without providing details.

Kachin Independence Army (KIA) spokesman Colonel Naw Bu said the group had destroyed several tankers in Kachin state in recent days, and at least seven trucks carrying fuel imported from China through neighbouring Shan state on Monday and Tuesday.

He said the KIA, which has fought the military for years, made efforts to avoid targeting civilian tankers, but added the military often employed them to carry fuel for its troops.

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People displaced by fighting arriving at a Buddhist monastery in Bhamo district, Kachin State. Photo: Kachinwaves via AFP

The “control of peace and stability” along the Myanmar-China border was discussed in a May 20 interview junta leader Min Aung Hlaing gave to Chinese media, the Global Light said on Friday, without giving details.

Myanmar imports the vast majority of its oil, mostly from Singapore.

Meanwhile, Japanese Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi said Tokyo will have to rethink its aid provision to Myanmar if the situation in the Southeast Asian nation does not improve.

“We don’t want to do that at all, but we have to state firmly that it will be difficult to continue under these circumstances,” Motegi told the Nikkei newspaper.

Japan, a top donor to Myanmar, provided US$1.74 billion in development aid to Naypyidaw in 2019.

 

REUTERS/Additional reporting by Agence France-Presse