Commander in Chief Min Aung Hlaing called for Myanmar’s military to remain a political force in the country at the 71st Armed Forces Day held in Nay Pyi Taw. Myanmar’s Armed Forces Day remembers the day in 1945 when General Aung San and his fledgling army turned against the Japanese forces occupying Burma.Senior General Min Aung Hlaing has stressed that the Military will protect the 2008 Constitution which allows the military to hold important ministries, 25 percent of the seats in parliament, and the option to grab power in a time of “crisis”.

In the western world, the nation of Myanmar is known as Burma. This colonial name was giving by the British, who ruled over the country from 1824 until 1948. Originally Myanmar was part of India like Pakistan and Bangladesh. British imperialism decided to create the colony of Burma in 1937.  This was not welcomed by many as the Burmese feared that the British wanted to exclude them from politics in India. Still British Burma was created and overrun by Japanese imperialists in 1942!The Japanese only ruled for three years and were driving out by American and British forces. Many Burmese nationalists had collaborated with the Japanese against western imperialism. Britain wanted these nationalists arrested and jailed, but they were very popular and it turned out that arresting them would only fuel more hatred against Great Britain. Three years after World War 2, the Union of Burma became independent but would soon find itself in a civil war between ethnic groups and political parties!The root of military in Myanmar has been associated with the struggle for independence. Myanmar gained its independence on January 4, 1948 from British Empire under the leadership of General Aung San under Burma National Army. The Army in Myanmar had gained respect in independent Myanmar at the initial stage and was perceived as protector of the country. The military claimed itself as the founder of the Union of Burma, and the main force that held the country together during the civil war and also claimed that it has prevented the country from disintegrating. The first military rule began in 1958 and direct military rule started when General Ne Win captured power through a military coup in 1962 lasted for 12 years, in the claim to save the country from disintegration.Burma’s pre-colonial economy in Burma was essentially a subsistence economy, with the majority of the population involved in rice production and other forms of agriculture. All land was technically owned by the Burmese monarch. Exports, along with oil wells, gem mining and teak production were controlled by the monarch. Burma was vitally involved in the Indian Ocean trade. Logged teak was a prized export that was used in European shipbuilding, because of its durability, and became the focal point of the Burmese export trade from the 1700s to the 1800s. During British occupation, Burma was the second wealthiest country in Southeast Asia after the Philippines. It was also once the world’s largest exporter of rice. During British administration, Burma supplied oil through the Burmah Oil Company. Burma also had a wealth of natural and labor resources. It produced 75% of the world’s teak and had a highly literate population. The country was believed to be on the fast track to development.After the Independence from British rule and a parliamentary government was formed in 1948, Prime Minister U Nu attempted to make Burma a welfare state and adopted central planning. Rice exports fell by two thirds and mineral exports by over 96%. Plans were partly financed by printing money, which led to inflation. This was followed by the 1962 coup d’état under General Ne Win who introduced an economic scheme called the ‘Burmese Way to Socialism’, a plan to nationalize all industries, with the exception of agriculture. The catastrophic program turned Burma into one of the world’s most impoverished countries. Burma’s admittance to least developed country status by the United Nations in 1987 highlighted its economic bankruptcy. The military’s involvement in the direct management of economic enterprises was an outgrowth of its conception of its own self-perceived role as the essential positive social force and guardian of the state, as well as its distinct mistrust of civilian politicians and their competence. The military had come to recognize that the continuation of their power is directly related to the economy. The military’s intervention into the economy was thus in part to ensure no untoward, uncontrollable economic discontent developed, as in 1988, that could lead to political chaos. The natural endowment of the country, one of the few before World War II that was an exporter of food and fuel, had lulled its leadership into a belief that the well being of the people could be attained, if necessary, through autarchic self-reliance. In the latter period, under the leadership of the military-mandated Burma Socialist Programme Party (BSPP, 1962-1988), the military managed to transform what, in natural resources and population/land ratio, should have been the wealthiest country in Southeast Asia to one of the poorest.The British named the country Burma in honor of the Burmans, the dominant ethnic group. Initially the British called it “Further India.” In, 1989 military leaders of Burma renamed the country from Burma to Myanmar and also changed capital the name of the capital from Rangoon to Yangon. Myanmar was the pre-colonial name of Burma.Myanmar is the local name of the country of the same way España is the local name of Spain and Nippon is the local name for Japan. And Yangon is local name of the capital of the same way Wein is the local name of Vienna. So when the leaders changed the name it was bit like the Spanish government insisting that everyone call them España. Rangoon is a corruption of Yan Kon —"end of strife”—so named by a conquering Burmese King Alaungpaya in 1753. The Myanmar military, or Tatmadow, is surely disappointed that it did not block Suu Kyi from obtaining the 67 percent vote that she needed to control a majority of the parliament. This result is required because under Myanmar's Constitution, 25 percent of the seats in the upper and lower House are appointed by the military. As a result Suu Kyi will control the parliament, which will appoint the new president. Yet the military anticipated and planned for this possibility years ago, including disqualifying constitutionally anyone whose spouse or children had benefited from a foreign nationality from serving as president, a provision designed just for her. Even if she will be "above the president," no meaningful reform to restore a genuine democracy will be possible without the military's support.To understand the very unusual situation that Suu Kyi will find herself in, one must look back on the country's recent history. As the military realized that its path, including an extraordinary economic reliance on China, was going to be unsustainable, it decided to manage the reform process to secure the soft landing it referred to as "disciplined democracy." But the military never intended for Myanmar to be a Western-style democracy. It wanted the government to have a civilian face but fully preserve its strong prerogatives.In April 2008, the then-military junta of Myanmar released its long-awaited draft constitution. It was drafted with no input from the National League for Democracy or ethnic political parties. And on May 10, 2008, in the wake of Cyclone Nargis hitting the country, a referendum was held and the military claimed that 98 percent of eligible voters turned out and over 92 percent voted “yes.” That constitution set the framework for last Sunday's vote, ensuring that the best any political party could achieve, regardless of its electoral success, would be to enter into a power-sharing arrangement with the military.In fact, the 2008 constitution was written to ensure that Myanmar's civilian government would be, at best, democracy on a leash.Under the constitution, the Myanmar military is a fourth branch of government; it sets its own budget independent of the president and parliament; it appoints the defense, home and border affairs ministers; and it has the right to veto decisions of the executive, legislative and judicial branches of the government. In fact, the civilian government has no oversight over the military, which "has the right to independently administer and adjudicate all affairs of the armed forces."It should be up to the Myanmar people to decide if national reconciliation requires justice and accountability for decades of human rights abuses perpetrated by the military, which included crimes against humanity, war crimes and ethnic cleansing. But the constitution provides permanent immunity for all members of prior military governments. In addition, and perhaps most disturbing, the constitution cannot be amended without a greater than 75 percent vote in both houses of parliament, which makes changing the constitution impossible without the support of the military.Suu Kyi and the new National League for Democracy government will have substantial power to realign budgetary priorities to the needs of the people, appoint cabinet ministers, repeal repressive laws, sign treaties and represent the government around the world. But on the most central challenges facing the country, the military remains in control. And given that the judiciary in Myanmar was built by and is loyal to the military, there will be additional means for central reforms to be blocked.In addition, despite much of the natural resources of the country being in ethnic minority areas, the constitution says that all above and below land rights belong to the central government. Ethnic minorities want autonomy within a federal Myanmar to make decisions for themselves and revenue-sharing on natural resource projects. But it is impossible for a National League for Democracy government to resolve these issues permanently in light of the constitution.Furthermore, the military controls not only the army but the intelligence service and national police. It also controls the prisons and all matters relating to immigration. Thus, while theoretically the parliament and executive branch could reform the 1982 Citizenship Act, which denaturalized the Rohingya people, there is no legal route to compel the home minister to implement any adopted reforms. The military can also continue to commit human rights abuses against civilians, and neither Suu Kyi nor her government will have the power to stop such attacks. And, under the constitution, the military even has the right to declare a state of emergency, assume the responsibilities of the other branches of government and suspend any or all civil and political rights of the Myanmar people if it feels the new civilian government is threatening its role.In countries where the rule of law prevails, national militaries are subject to the control of civilian governments. But in Myanmar, the military can exercise virtually unlimited power, and it also has all of the weapons by which to enforce its control. While Suu Kyi's electoral victory is historic, particularly in light of the many years she fought the military junta and sacrificed so much under house arrest, it is premature to declare victory. There are many struggles that lie ahead.The next section explains that, under the new constitution, the military stillcontrols the government and can block constitutional change. The followingsection examines the military’s original strategy of holding power throughinternal unity and external coercion. The third section explains the regime’smore recent strategy of buying support by providing income and resourcestreams. The final section then eand considers the possibility of a newalliance that could oust the junta from powerxamines the recent developments that havemade that basis of power less stable.The new Burmese constitution, authored by a compliant convention andadopted by a sham referendum in 2008, ensures that the military will remainthe dominant power in the country. I have analysed the new constitution atgreater length elsewhere,13so a somewhat cursory overview will suffice here.First, the constitution gives the military a substantial share in the civiliangovernment: serving soldiers comprise 25 per cent of the members of everylegislative chamber, and the commander-in-chief appoints the ministers ofdefence, home affairs and border affairs.14Second, and more importantly, themilitary will serve as a separate and independent government within its own,very broadly assigned domain.15Thus, the civilian government may not seek to control the military: ‘TheDefence Services has [sic] the right to independently administer andadjudicate all affairs of the armed forces.’16Even the Constitutional Tribunalmust keep its hands off: Article 46 gives the tribunal the power toreview executive and legislative action but notably omits reference to militaryaction.Within its sphere, then, the military will be supreme. And the constitutiondefines the scope of that sphere in language that is both expansive and vague:the military shall ‘participate in the National political leadership role of thestate’,17and it shall have the power to safeguard ‘the non-disintegration ofthe Union, the non-disintegration of National solidarity and the perpetuationof sovereignty’.18That particular phrasing is important for two reasons.First, it is elastic enough to mean whatever the military wants it to mean, soeven if the Tatmadaw stays strictly within constitutional bounds, it hascarteblanche. Second, it casts the military in a particular constitutional role: thearmy is the institution that centrally holds the country together. As we willsee, that role grows out of a particular historical experience: the militaryseized power in the first place so as to impose order on what it perceived to bechaos.The constitutional provisions dealing with states of emergency assign thesame role to the army. In settled times the Tatmadaw must safeguard non-disintegration and sovereignty, but the civilian government will still function.In unsettled times the Tatmadaw can go further: if necessary to safeguardnon-disintegration and sovereignty, it can suspend the operation of thecivilian government and rule solo. Article 40(c) provides:If there arises a state of emergency that could cause disintegration of the Union,disintegration of national solidarity and loss of sovereign power or attemptstherefore by wrongful forcible means such as insurgency or violence, theCommander-in-Chief of the Defence Services has the right to take over andexercise  State  sovereign  power  in    accord  with  the  provisions  of  this Constitution.

The Burmese junta released democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi after seven years and six months of house arrest in November, but only after holding a rare general election denounced by foreign governments and opposition groups as a fraud. Rights groups also say the Burmese junta is detaining more than 2,200 political prisoners.  Suu Kyi, the daughter of Burma’s assassinated independence idol General Aung San, has spent most of the past 20 years in detention. Her party won a landslide election victory in 1990 but it was never acknowledged by the regime.

The returns from Myanmar's parliamentary election show there will be an overwhelming victory for longtime democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi and her National League for Democracy, enabling them to form the next government. But the oddest feature of the election is that Suu Kyi herself, who led her party to a landslide victory, cannot become president. This reality is just one visible symptom of the even more difficult struggle that lies ahead. It is very much a critical and open question if the military will feel compelled to cede any ground in light of the new government.Burma’s military government doesnot intend to relinquish power; its new constitution guarantees the army theright to do whatever it wants. Democracy will therefore not come to Burmathrough legal, peaceful, incremental steps. Instead, democracy will come toBurma outside the legal process, because the basis for the regime’s power haschanged, becoming markedly weaker. When it first seized power in 1961, themilitary was united and therefore able to rule through coercion alone. In thepast several decades, by contrast, the generals have increasingly sought topurchase support by giving income and resource streams to key players. But ifpeople support the regime only because it pays them, they will stop doing sowhen it stops paying. In recent years the regime has alienated many traditionalsupporters by taking away the income and resource streams on which they hadcome to rely. As these groups become alienated from the top generals, they mayturn to each other to forge new deals, and ultimately some may try to enlist thepeople as political allies. Burma therefore fits the most common pattern fordemocratisation: it will come through elite defections.The Burmese military government has kept firm control of the country fordecades, but two developments in 2010 have caused many to wonder howlong its tenure will continue. Specifically, the junta allowed elections tonational and regional legislatures in November,1and soon thereafter itreleased Aung San Suu Kyi, the symbolic and spiritual leader of Burma’sdemocracy movement, from house arrest.2On superficial inspection, theseevents might suggest that Burma has taken the first steps towards genuinedemocratisation. Although the path may be long, in this view, it is only amatter of time before processes already in train push the junta to the marginof Burmese political life.Such an impression is misleading. Under the new constitution, which wasessentially authored by the junta itself, the military will remain in control and has  the  power  to  send  the  civilian  government  home.  In  addition,constitutional amendments will in practice require the consent of the militaryitself, so even if the civilian politicians—almost all of whom were hand-picked by the junta—wanted to reduce the military’s role, they couldn’t.3Inshort, the junta clearly does not intend to relinquish the reins, and the normaloperation of Burma’s new legal and electoral processes will not bringmeaningful democracy. Any vision of a peaceful, incremental transitionwithin the extant legal framework is mistaken.Nevertheless, it is more likely now than in recent years that a transitionmay occur outside of normal legal processes, because the basis of the junta’spower has become less stable over the decades. In comparison with othermilitary regimes, the Tatmadaw’s reign has proved remarkably durable fortwo reasons. First, until recently, the military itself stayed unified because ofits perception that the country was genuinely in danger. The Tatmadawseized power during an extremely complicated civil war: ethnic insurgentssought to detach portions of the country; leftist insurgents sought to overturnthe elected government; and when Kuomintang (KMT) elements retreatedinto Burma, a low-level proxy war between China and the US seemed to be inthe offing. In the face of this chaos, the military developed and inculcated anideology focused on the importance of internal unity to stave off thedisintegration of the country.4Second, the military chose therefore initially to rule purely throughcoercion, rather than through building a coalition with political and civilsociety groups. These groups were themselves disunited and thus unable topush for inclusion. In addition, in the early years the bulk of the populationdid not strongly object to the military takeover because it was not then asbrutal as it would become. To some extent the junta could even portray itselfas the protector of the Burman majority population against the ethnicinsurgents.5As a result, the leading generals held a virtual monopoly ofpower; there were no other significant players.In recent decades, however, the situation has changed. On the one hand,the threat level has gone down: theKMTand the communist insurgency areno more, and the ethnic armies have been seriously weakened. As a result,military unity suffered, and the leading generals started to struggle with eachother for control. On the other hand, as the regime’s conduct became morebrutal and arbitrary, more of the population became alienated and, as thestrength of the ethnic forces diminished, so did the threat. Finally, with therise of Aung San Suu Kyi and the National League for Democracy,Burma saw the birth of a broad-based democracy movement, which joinedhands with the ethnic armies. In short, power in Burma became lessmonolithic.6With growing internal disunity and external demands for reform, themilitary needed new strategies to maintain control. In this situation someregimes seek to build stable, inclusive political institutions that will delivergeneral public goods, thus earning the support of the citizenry. When thathappens, the transition to a democratic and legitimate government hasbegun. The regime in Burma, however, did not pursue that path. Instead, it provided income and resource streams to key supporters, thus buying theirallegiance, and to key opponents, thus buying off their resistance.7In significant measure the regime has thus become a system for the deliveryof bribes. First, the regime concluded ceasefire agreements with most of theethnic armies, giving them certain economic opportunities in exchange forpeace. Next, it allowed the regional commanders the freedom to extractincome and resources from the civilians in their respective areas of control.Finally, the highest-ranking generals developed personalist and rivalrousnetworks of supporters, manoeuvring their people into key posts in exchangefor their loyalty.

Aung San Suu Kyi’s ruling National League for Democracy (NLD) submitted an “emergency proposal” last week aimed at amending parts of the military-drafted 2008 constitution that the party deems undemocratic.It was the Nobel laureate’s biggest challenge to the military’s power in nearly three years, and sparked a protest in the legislature from green-glad army appointees, who stood in silence for several minutes to show their opposition.

Yangon means Despite the fact that Myanmar is a Burmese word, Western nations, pro-democracy groups, human rights groups and Aung San Suu Kyi prefer the name Burma. Using the name Myanmar favors the government. Using Burma favors the opposition.The military has other streams of revenue other than the state budget, so it is not an absolute power over the budget, and presumably the military could push back pretty hard, but it's not something that Suu Kyi has been willing to use her parliamentary majority to do.Myanmar, also known as Burma, was ruled by an oppressive military junta for nearly 50 years, until 2011.Since then, the country has been undergoing unprecedented reform, including a transition to democracy and negotiations to end conflict with armed ethnic groups.The majority of the Muslim Rohingya live in Rakhine state and are not officially recognised as one of Buddhist-dominated Myanmar's 135 ethnic groups.The ethnic origins of modern Myanmar (known historically as Burma) are a mixture of Indo-Aryans, who began pushing into the area around 700 B.C., and the Mongolian invaders under Kublai Khan who penetrated the region in the 13th century. Anawrahta (1044–1077) was the first great unifier of Myanmar.In 1612, the British East India Company sent agents to Burma, but the Burmese doggedly resisted efforts of British, Dutch, and Portuguese traders to establish posts along the Bay of Bengal. Through the Anglo-Burmese War in 1824–1826 and two subsequent wars, the British East India Company expanded to the whole of Burma. By 1886, Burma was annexed to India, then became a separate colony in 1937.During World War II, Burma was a key battleground; the 800-mile Burma Road was the Allies' vital supply line to China. The Japanese invaded the country in Dec. 1941, and by May 1942, had occupied most of it, cutting off the Burma Road. After one of the most difficult campaigns of the war, Allied forces liberated most of Burma prior to the Japanese surrender in Aug. 1945.Burma became independent on Jan. 4, 1948. In 1962, left-wing general Ne Win staged a coup, banned political opposition, suspended the constitution, and introduced the “Burmese way of socialism.” After 25 years of economic hardship and repression, the Burmese people held massive demonstrations in 1987 and 1988. These were brutally quashed by the State Law and Order Council (SLORC). In 1989, the military government officially changed the name of the country to Myanmar.In May 1990 elections, the opposition National League for Democracy (NLD) won in a landslide. But the military, or SLORC, refused to recognize the election results. The leader of the opposition, Aung San Suu Kyi, was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1991, which focused world attention on SLORC's repressive policies. Daughter of the assassinated general Aung San, who was revered as the father of Burmese independence, Suu Kyi remained under house arrest from 1989 until 1995. Suu Kyi continued to protest against the government, but almost every move she made was answered with a counterblow from SLORC.Although the ruling junta has maintained a tight grip on Myanmar since 1988, it has not been able to subdue an insurgency in the country's south that has gone on for decades. The ethnic Karen movement has sought an independent homeland along Myanmar's southern border with Thailand. In Jan. 2004, the military government and the insurgents from the Karen National Union agreed to end the fighting, but they stopped short of signing a cease-fire.The economy has been in a state of collapse except for the junta-controlled heroin trade, the universities have remained closed, and the AIDS epidemic, unrecognized by the junta, has gripped the country.From 2000 to 2002, Suu Kyi was again placed under house arrest. In spring 2003, the government cracked down once again on the democracy movement, detaining Suu Kyi and shuttering NLD headquarters. The regime opened a constitutional convention in May 2004, but many observers doubted its legitimacy.In Oct. 2004, the government arrested Prime Minister Gen. Khin Nyunt and charged him with corruption. He had angered the leadership of the junta with his recent experiments on reform, first by freeing Suu Kyi from house arrest and later for proposing a seven-step “road map to democracy.A series of coordinated bomb attacks in May 2005 killed about a dozen people and wounded more than 100 in Rangoon. The military junta blamed the Karen National Union and the Shan State Army. The ethnic rebel groups, however, denied any involvement.On Nov. 13, 2005, the military junta—in a massive and secretive move relocated the seat of government from the capital Rangoon to a mountain compound called Pyinmanaa in Naypyidaw. The move perplexed many, and the junta was vague in its explanation, saying, “Due to changed circumstances, where Myanmar is trying to develop a modern nation, a more centrally located government seat has become a necessity.”More than 1,000 delegates gathered in December to begin drafting a constitution, which the junta said was a step toward democracy. The convention adjourned in late Jan. 2006 with little progress. In Sept. 2007, representatives to the convention, which has met on and off since 1993, released a draft constitution that ensures that the military will continue to control the ministries and legislature and have the right to declare a state of emergency. The document also limits the rights of political parties. Opposition parties were excluded from the convention.In a stunning show of defiance, widespread pro-democracy protests, prompted by a sharp increase in fuel prices, erupted throughout the country in Aug. 2007. Participation in the peaceful protests ballooned over several weeks, and Buddhist monks joined the throngs of protesters when government troops used force against demonstrators in early September. The monks emerged as the leaders of the protest movement and gained international sympathy and support. On Sept. 26, the military cracked down on the protesters, firing into crowds, raiding pagodas, and arresting monks. At least nine people were killed. The protests were by far the largest in the country in 20 years, with as many as 100,000 people marching. In a statement, the United Nations Security Council condemned the crackdown, saying it "strongly deplores" the violence unleashed on the protesters.On May 3, 2008, Cyclone Nargis ravaged the Irrawaddy Delta and Yangon, killing 22,500 people and leaving up to a million homeless. Another 41,000 people were reported missing and feared dead. Most of the death and destruction were caused by a 12-foot high tidal wave that formed during the storm. The isolated military junta accepted international aid, a tacit acknowledgement that it is ill-equipped to handle a disaster of such enormous scope. But once the aid began to arrive, the government limited distribution of the supplies, accepting only about 10% of what was needed. In addition, it denied entry visas to relief workers, leaving the country crippled and vulnerable to widespread disease. The junta faced further criticism when it went ahead with a constitutional referendum on May 10 intended to cement its grip on power.In September, the military government released just over 9,000 prisoners, including the longest-serving political prisoner, Win Tin. Most of those released, however, were not political prisoners. By most estimates, as many as 2,000 political prisoners remain in detention. These releases were followed in November by the sentencing of 30 activists to up to 65 years in jail. The activists include veterans of the 1988 students' movement and other democracy advocates who participated in the thwarted monk-led protests in Aug. and Sept. 2007.Days after elections in Oct. 2010–the country's first elections in 20 years–opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi was freed after nearly 20 years in detention. Thousands of supporters gathered outside her home, where she gave a speech calling for a "peaceful revolution." The elections, which the junta-backed Union Solidarity and Development Party won in a landslide, were widely criticized as rigged and an attempt to further empower the military government. Nevertheless, the junta presented the elections as evidence that the country had completed the transition from military government to a democracy. Suu Kyi's party, the National League for Democracy, boycotted the elections, thus further diminishing the legitimacy of the results.The country's first Parliament in 20 years convened in Jan. 2011 and elected Prime Minister Thein Sein as president. The military junta officially disbanded in March 2011. However, Parliament is civilian largely in name only. The military won about 60% of the seats in October 2010 elections, and another 25% are reserved for members of the military. In addition, the cabinet is largely comprised of former members of the junta. The National League for Democracy dismissed the transition to a civilian government, calling it a futile gesture that will introduce no real change in power.The NLD's predictions proved false, however. In his first year as president, Thein Sein initiated stunning changes in political and economic philosophy that saw a loosening of the tight grip the authoritarian junta held on the country. He initiated talks with opposition leader Daw Aung San Suu Kyi; allowed her and her party, the NLD, to run in upcoming parliamentary elections; freed about more than 800 political prisoners; signed a cease-fire with ethnic Karen rebels, who for 60 years have sought an independent homeland along Myanmar's southern border with Thailand; and suspended work on the controversial $3.6 billion Myitsone Dam on the Irrawaddy River. In response, the U.S. took dramatic steps to normalize relations with the formerly isolated and repressive regime. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton visited the country in December 2011—it was the first visit of a senior U.S. official in about 50 years. In Jan. 2012 the U.S. restored full diplomatic relations with Myanmar. That was followed by an easing of sanctions that allowed U.S. companies to "responsibly do business" in Myanmar.

In July 1988 Ne Win suddenly announced that he was preparing to leave the stage. Seeing at last a possible escape from military rule, economic decline and routine human rights abuses, thousands of people took to the streets of Rangoon.Thousands of students and democracy advocates fled to the border regions under ethnic control and forged alliances with ethnic resistance movements. Some of these groups include the National Coalition Government of the Union of Burma (NCGUB), the All Burma Student Democratic Front, the Democratic Alliance of Burma, and the longstanding National Democratic Front situated in Manerplaw (the former headquarters of the Karen National Union which fell to SLORC in January 1995). Together these groups formed the National Council of the Union of Burma, an umbrella organization representing all the groups.

In April 2012 parliamentary elections, the National League of Democracy prevailed in 43 out of 45 districts that held races, including the capital, Naypyidaw. Suu Kyi, who in October 2010 was released after spending nearly 20 years under house arrest, won a seat in parliament and took office in May. It was a stunning victory for the opposition—and an equally symbolic defeat for the military. Observers speculated that the opposition's victory would either prompt military rulers to respond to the will of the people and enact change or view the victory as a threat to its power. The U.S. rewarded Myanmar for its progress with a thaw in relations, easing a number of sanctions and allowing nongovernmental organizations to resume operations in the country.Corruption is endemic in Myanmar, presenting companies with high risks. Many businesspeople rate corruption, a weak rule of law and complex and opaque licensing systems as serious barriers to investment and trade in Myanmar. The country suffers from high levels of corruption across all sectors. In November 2015, Myanmar held its first national election, ending 50 years of military rule. Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy (NLD) won a landslide victory, which is widely interpreted as a step towards an opening up of the previously isolated country. While the government is increasingly addressing corruption issues, these remain deeply rooted and pervasive in the public and private sectors. The Anti-Corruption Lawcriminalizess active and passive bribery in the public sector, abuse of office and attempted corruption. Facilitation payments are not specifically addressed in the law, but should be considered illegal. Gifts are illegal in principle, but there are a number of specific exceptions. The maximum punishment for corruption is fifteen years’ imprisonment and a fine.Companies face a high risk of corruption and political interference in Myanmar’s judicial sector. Businesses report very low trust in the independence of the judiciary (GCR 2015-2016). Bribes and irregular payments in exchange for favorable judicial decisions are very common (GCR 2015-2016). Two out of five citizens believe most or all judges are corrupt (GCB 2017). Nevertheless, only a fraction of firms identifies the court system as a major constraint (ES 2016). Institutional corruption is pervasive in the judiciary and there is an appearance of de facto military and government control over the judiciary (HRR 2016). The Supreme Court has taken the first steps in trying to assert its independence during the constitutional review process (BTI 2016). However, challenges remain immense; there is a lack of resources and inadequate legal education (BTI 2016). The judicial committee in Myanmar’s parliament received over 10,000 complaints about problems in the legal sector, primarily alleging corruption (BTI 2016). Enforcing a contract in Myanmar takes almost twice as long as the regional average (DB 2017).Companies perceive the judiciary to be inefficient when it comes to settling disputes and challenging government regulations (GCR 2015-2016). Myanmar incorporated the 1958 New York Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards into its domestic legal framework in 2016; allowing companies to seek arbitration in a third country (ICS 2017). There is no solid track record of enforcing foreign awards in Myanmar (ICS 2017). Myanmar is not a state party to the International Centre for the Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID).Ethnic violence broke out between Buddhists and Muslims in the western state of Rakhine after the rape and murder of a Buddhist woman by a Muslim man. Revenge attacks followed, prompting Prime Minister Thein Sein to declare a state of emergency in June. Dozens were killed, hundreds of homes were burned, and about 100,000 people were displaced. Tension between the Buddhist majority and Muslim minority, called Rohingyas, in Rakhine has been high for years. The government considers the Rohingyas illegal immigrants, discrimination against them is rampant, and they live in horrible conditions. On Aug. 1, 2012, the international organization Human Rights Watch published a 56-page report "The Government Could Have Stopped This" based on eyewitness reports of the acts of violence committed in Myanmar.In Aug. 2012 Myanmar's government did away with the country's censorship of private publications. While laws enabling the imprisonment of journalists for printing items that the government deems harmful are still in effect, the final two topics (religion and politics) were removed from the pre-publication censorship list on Aug. 20. Prime Minister Thein Sein continued his shift in political philosophy in September, announcing in a speech to the UN that the changes in Myanmar are "irreversible.The security apparatus in Myanmar presents high corruption risks. Nearly half of citizens believe most or all police officers are corrupt (GCB 2017). The government does not effectively maintain control over the country’s security forces and police forces act with impunity (HRR 2016). Business executives do not feel they can rely on the police (GCR 2015-2016). The legal mechanisms that exist to investigate corruption are rarely used and ineffective (HRR 2016). About one in seven firms indicate they experience losses due to theft and vandalism (ES 2016). The police frequently require victims to pay substantial bribes to initiate criminal investigations and the police routinely extort civilians (HRR 2016). Outside of conflict areas, security forces generally respect the rule of law and a number of organizations have signalled a decrease in the pervasive and threatening influence security forces exert on the population under the new government (HRR 2016).Myanmar has a legal anti-corruption framework in place, however – and in spite of renewed efforts to curb corruption – enforcement remains inadequate (BTI 2016). The Penal Code and the Anti-Corruption Law cover most forms of bribery in the public sector, including active and passive bribery, extortion, attempted corruption and abuse of office (Conventus Law 2016). Penalties for these offenses include imprisonment of up to 15 years for public officials and a fine, imprisonment of up to ten years and a fine for “authorized persons”, and imprisonment of up to seven years and a fine for others (Conventus Law 2016). The Law requires all officials in the executive, judicial and legislative branches of the government to declare their assets, allowing penalties for those who do not comply. Facilitation payments are not explicitly excluded, so they may be considered bribes (Conventus Law 2016). Guidelines issued in 2016 stipulate that public officials may accept gifts with a value of up to MMK 25,000 (approximately USD 25), gifts that are given because of a “personal relationship” (an undefined term), or gifts with a value of up to MMK 100,000 given on religious holidays (Conventus Law 2016). The Anti-Corruption Law gives a mandate to Myanmar’s Anti-Corruption Commission to address graft and bribery. Nonetheless, the Anti-Corruption Commission is primarily staffed by former military officers and members of the ruling party, raising concerns about its impartiality (BTI 2016). There is no separate definition of private corruption in Myanmar’s laws, but the definition of bribery contained in the Anti-Corruption Law could be read to include certain high level managers at state-owned enterprises and public-private partnerships; there is no practical evidence of this interpretation as of yet (Conventus Law 2016). Whistleblowers should be protected under the Anti-Corruption Law, but this is untested in practice (HSF 2015). There is no comprehensive public procurement legal framework; most of the regulations are contained in various directives; more information from the World Bank is available here. The latest guidance for government organizations stipulates that all projects with a value over MMK 10 million are subject to procurement rules.In answer to two years' worth of social, political, and economic reform, the European Union lifted the last of its trade, economic and individual sanctions against Myanmar. President Obama lifted the 1996 ban on entry visas to the former Burma's military rulers, their business partners, and immediate families on May 2, 2013. At the same time, however, the Obama administration approved another year of the National Emergencies Act, which prohibits business transactions with anyone in Myanmar involved in repression of the democracy movement. This give-one, take-one approach was meant to encourage the democratization of Myanmar while simultaneously registering censure of the sectarian violence that erupted in March and has caused more than 40 deaths and has displaced an estimated 13,000. Radical Buddhist monks have been indicted in these attacks between Buddhists and minority (5% of population) Muslims.While Myanmar has taken steps toward political and social reform in its slow transition to democracy, little has been done to reach a cease-fire with its many ethnic groups—a promise made by Thein Sein when he took office as president in 2011. Indeed, in March and November 2014, dozens of fighters from the Kachin Independence Army were killed in fighting with government troops. The battles in November followed a visit to Myanmar by President Barack Obama. Suu Kyi complained in November 2014 that the reforms had stalled, noting that the military government is blocking her from running for president in 2015's elections.In 2015, the date for the general election was set for Nov. 8. During the summer of 2015, Aung San Suu Kyi announced that her party, the National League for Democracy (NLD), would take part in the election after boycotting the previous one in 2010, which was condemned for irregularities by international organizations. The leader of NLD, the main opposition party, and Myanmar's most popular politician, Aung San Suu Kyi released a video in early September as campaigning began. In the video, she said, "For the first time in decades, our people will have a real chance of bringing about real change. This is a chance that we cannot afford to let slip. We hope that the whole world understands how important it is for us to have free and fair elections, and to make sure that the results of such elections are respected by all concerned. Please help us by observing what happens before the elections, during the elections, and, crucially, after the elections."Her NLD party, widely expected to win, has won before, only to have the election outcome ignored. In the 1990 general election, NLD won in a landslide, taking 392 out of 492 seats. However, the military refused to cede power.In August 2015, the country's electoral commission announced that candidates and political parties were forbidden from criticizing the military during their state media campaign speeches. Also, the 2015 election would still take place under a constitution that was written by the military, a constitution that many, including NLD view as fraudulent.Early results indicated that Aung San Suu Kyi's opposition party won Myanmar's landmark national elections by a landslide. The first official results had the opposition party winning the majority of seats in Yangon, Myanmar's largest city. The country's ruling military-backed party conceded the election. If the results are honored by the military and ruling party, it would be the first time in over fifty years that Myanmar voters were able to freely pick their leaders through an election.According to Countries and Their Cultures: “The military has ruled the country since 1962. In the face of growing opposition to the government and its socialist policies, Ne Win and President San Yu resigned in July 1988, and widespread civil unrest followed. General Saw Muang formed a new military regime known as the State Law and Order Restoration Council (SLORC) and abolished much of the socialist system. Elections were held for the 485-member People's Assembly in 1990. The opposition National League for Democracy (NLD) won 396 seats, while the military-backed party won only 10. The People's Assembly was never convened, and many of its leaders were arrested or forced into exile. The military began drafting a new constitution in 1992, but this task has not been completed. The regime changed its name to the State Peace and Development Council (SPDC) in 1997. The council included a chairman and twenty other members. The government formed by the council consists of a prime minister, two deputy prime ministers, and thirty-seven ministers.  The military's unbroken, 49-year grip on power officially ended in March 2011, when the ruling State Peace and Development Council—Myanmar’s junta—was officially dissolved after a swearing-in ceremony for the new civilian government, making way for a nominally civilian government led mostly by retired generals.Myanmar’s parliament convened in January 2011 and selected former Prime Minister Thein Sein as president. Although the vast majority of national-level appointees named by Thein Sein are former or current military officers, the government has initiated a series of political and economic reforms leading to a substantial opening of the long-isolated country. Under Burma’s 2008 constitution, the joint parliament is tasked with selecting a president and two vice presidents.A general election was held in Myanmar on November 7, 2010, in accordance with the new constitution which was approved in a referendum held in May 2008. Thirty-seven parties contested places in the bicameral national parliament and 14 regional assemblies. United Solidarity and Development Party (USDP), which is allied to the military regime, won 80 percent of contested seats.A total of 498 of the 664 seats in both houses of parliament were up for grabs in the 2010 election. A total of 330 of the 440 seats in the Pyithu Hluttaw (House of Representatives) were up for election. The remaining 110 seats (25 percent) were not elected, and instead reserved for military appointees (taken from Defense Services personnel, technically called Army Representatives (AR). A total of 168 of the 224 seats in the Amyotha Hluttaw (House of Nationalities) were up for election. The remaining 56 seats (25 percent) were not elected, and instead reserved for military appointees (taken from Defense Services personnel, technically called Army Representatives

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