Yangon (Myanmar): Political parties seeking
new members ahead of Myanmar`s historic elections were warned
on Wednesday they cannot chant, march or say anything during rallies
that tarnish the image of the tightly ruled country.
The rules are part of a 14-point directive published by
the Election Commission that governs how parties enlist new
members. All parties contesting elections planned for later
this year are required to have at least 1,000 members within
90 days of being granted registration.
The polls, which will be the first in two decades, have
been dismissed by critics as a sham designed to cement nearly
50 years of military rule. The junta has not announced an
So far, 33 new political parties have been approved by
the Election Commission and five existing parties have
re-registered to contest the polls. Global criticism has
failed to win the freedom of detained opposition leader Aung
San Suu Kyi, whose now-defunct party overwhelmingly won the
last election in 1990, but was never allowed to take power.
Under recently enacted election laws, Suu Kyi and other
political prisoners estimated at more than 2,000 are
effectively barred from taking part in the polls. Her National
League for Democracy party has called the laws unfair and
undemocratic and is boycotting the vote, which critics have
dismissed as a sham designed to cement military rule. The
party was disbanded after refusing to register for the
elections by a May 6 deadline.
The directive, which was published in state-run media,
says parties that want to hold gatherings outside their own
headquarters must seek permission a week in advance from the
Election Commission and then abide by several restrictions.
The directive cited "rules prohibiting the act of
marching to the designated gathering point (and) holding flags
or marching and chanting slogans in procession" before or
after the meeting.
It also bars "giving talks and publishing and
distributing publications with the intention of tarnishing the
image of the state," according to the Myanma Ahlin and other
Parties must avoid causing disturbances near government
offices, factories, markets, schools, hospitals and religious
buildings, the directive said, adding that local authorities
will provide necessary security measures during any gatherings
and in the event that any of the rules are violated.
Once parties have acquired full membership, separate
rules will be announced to govern the campaigning process.