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Myanmar election authority accuses Suu Kyi of electoral fraud

BANGKOK – Myanmar’s state election commission announced it was prosecuting the country’s ousted leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, and 15 other high-profile political figures for alleged fraud in the general election. November last year.

The announcement was published Tuesday in Myanmar’s Global New Light newspaper and other official media.

Allegations of widespread election fraud were the main reason cited by the military for taking power on February 1 that toppled Ms. Suu Kyi’s government. Her National League for Democracy is about to begin her second five-year term in office after a landslide victory in the polls. The military-backed Solidarity and Development Party suffered unexpected heavy losses.

Independent observers, such as the Asian Network of Free Elections, have found no evidence of significant irregularities in the polls, although they are critical in some respects.

The Coalition Election Commission’s action is likely to result in Suu Kyi’s party being dissolved and unable to take part in new elections that the military has promised to take place within two years of taking over. However, Monday’s announcement by the commission did not specify which law would be used to prosecute the accused.

In May, the head of a new military-appointed election commission said his agency would consider dissolving Ms Suu Kyi’s former ruling party over its alleged involvement in election fraud and political corruption. Its leader was accused of treason. Committee Chairman Thein Soe said an investigation had determined the party had illegally worked with the government to gain its advantage at the polls.

After taking power, the military dismissed members of the election commission that certified last year’s poll results and appointed new ones. It also arrested members of the former commission and, according to reports in Myanmar’s independent media, pressured them to declare that there had been electoral fraud.

The new commission declared last year’s election results invalid.

A new notice from the commission said that Suu Kyi, former President Win Myint, other leading figures in her party and the former chair of the committee were “engaged in the electoral processes, rigged the election.” and unlawful actions” in connection with the polls.

It accused 16 people of carrying out illegal actions, including coercing local election officials to obstruct military polling stations, and threatening these officials in connection with pre-voting. for voters over 60, forcing local officials to approve ballot lists that included ineligible voters, and interfering in campaigning in support of Ms. Suu Kyi’s party.

Suu Kyi has been tried or charged in about a dozen criminal cases, one of which will almost certainly prevent her from running for re-election. Several of her top political allies have also been tried or are facing charges. Suu Kyi’s supporters as well as independent organizations say the cases are fake and are intended to discredit Ms. Suu Kyi and her party while legitimizing military rule.

Dissolving Suu Kyi’s party would follow the regional trend of dissolving popular political parties seen as a threat to ruling governments.

Cambodia’s high court in 2017 dissolved the Cambodia National Rescue Party, the only credible opposition force, ahead of the 2018 general election.

Thailand’s Constitutional Court in 2020 dissolved the newly formed Future Party, which won the third highest number of seats in the lower house in the 2019 general election.

In both the Cambodia and Thailand cases, the courts cited specific violations of the law for their rulings, but their actions were widely seen as a reflection of political pressure.

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