as NLD Ceases to Exist as Political Party
NLD members have cleared out the head office and have outlined their plans to do “social work with a political angle.” Some members have also formed a new party called the ‘National Democratic Force’ and registered with the military in order to maintain an overview of the process from the inside.
Local sources have already reported that NLD members are being arrested and abused in Arakan and Mon states.
Despite there still not being a date for the elections, the military-backed ‘Union Solidarity and Development Party’ has now begun campaigning across the country, including on all state-owned channels.
Political parties are important organs for representing aggregated preferences and opinions, and their unobstructed participation is a fundamental part of free and fair elections. A free media, and respect for freedom of expression and access to information are also vital to free and fair elections. A free and professional media informs the electorate, communicates policies, frames election issues, holds parties accountable, and creates a diverse and pluralistic election where all parties have equal opportunities to express their views.
By in effect denying the NLD the chance to take part in the election, the military regime is violating the people’s right to access a range of viewpoints and express themselves freely through the electoral process. Furthermore, the absence of free and fair elections, including specific protections for a free media, is likely to further increase political and economic instability in Burma.
ARTICLE 19 calls on the international community, particularly China, India, and the ASEAN states, to recognise that the withdrawal of the NLD means that the forthcoming elections are illegitimate. ARTICLE 19 urges governments to use all means at their disposal to ensure that the electoral laws be amended so as to allow for political equality and popular control.
NOTES TO EDITORS:
• Read ARTICLE 19’s Joint Statement on the Media and Elections at: www.article19.org/pdfs/press/joint-statement-on-the-media-and-elections.pdf
• For more information please contact: Oliver Spencer, firstname.lastname@example.org