Myanmar's New Era

July 17, 2012 • Volume 6, Issue 14
Will the military allow reforms to continue?
By Robert Kiener


In a sign that Myanmar's military junta may be transforming the country into a more democratic society (AFP/Getty Images/Soe Than Win)
In a sign that Myanmar's military junta may be transforming the country into a more democratic society, Aung San Suu Kyi — a Nobel Peace Prize winner and one of the world's most famous political dissidents — attends the second day of her historic term in Parliament on July 10. (AFP/Getty Images/Soe Than Win)

After nearly half a century of isolation, stagnation and iron-fisted rule by one of the developing world's last remaining military dictatorships, Myanmar (formerly Burma) has instituted a dramatic series of political and economic reforms. These changes, instituted during the past year by a civilian government run by a former general, indicate that the military may be willing to hand over power voluntarily — a scenario that few could have predicted as little as a year ago. Equally surprising, Aung San Suu Kyi, Myanmar's world-famous, pro-democracy dissident and opposition leader, was recently elected to Parliament and has greeted the reforms with “cautious optimism.” Western powers have responded to the nascent reforms by suspending economic and political sanctions and are beginning to invest in the desperately poor but resource-rich nation of 55 million people. However, Myanmar faces a challenging future — especially in its treatment of ethnic minorities.

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
Oct. 08, 2021  Erdoğan's New Turkey
Oct. 20, 2017  Democracy Under Stress
Jul. 17, 2012  Myanmar's New Era
Jan. 17, 2012  Emerging Central Asia
Jun. 21, 2011  Peacebuilding
May 03, 2011  Turmoil in the Arab World
Feb. 15, 2011  Sub-Saharan Democracy
Jun. 2010  Democracy in Southeast Asia
Apr. 01, 2005  Exporting Democracy
Jan. 30, 2004  Democracy in the Arab World
Nov. 03, 2000  Democracy in Latin America
Oct. 08, 1999  Democracy in Eastern Europe
Jul. 24, 1998  Democracy in Asia
Aug. 17, 1990  Initiatives: True Democracy or Bad Lawmaking?
Feb. 02, 1990  Free Markets, Free Politics and Growth
Jun. 14, 1967  Greece: Monarchy Vs. Republicanism
Feb. 04, 1959  Revolutionary Ferment and Democratic Processes
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Regional Political Affairs: East Asia and the Pacific