Myanmar’s new dawn: timeline of a troubled nation

YANGON – Myanmar entered a new era on Wednesday as the first civilian-led government took over with the swearing in of Aung San Suu Kyi’s proxy president Htin Kyaw, officially ending decades of brutal and isolationist military control.

Here is a timeline of a nation that went from colony to military dictatorship, but has begun making a remarkable and peaceful democratic transition.

— 1885 —

Centuries of rule by a Buddhist monarchy ends with the defeat and exile of Burma’s last king by the British. A lengthy period of Western colonialism begins and Burma (as it was then known) becomes a province of British India.

— 1941-1945 —

Japan occupies Burma during World War II. Nationalist hero Aung San fights with the Japanese, but swaps sides in the war’s closing stages in the hope of achieving independence.

His daughter Aung San Suu Kyi, who would go on to lead the pro-democracy movement, is born in 1945.

— 1948 —

Burma attains full independence from the British on January 4, a dream Aung San never lived to see following his assassination months earlier.

— 1962 —

After years of factional infighting, General Ne Win seizes power in a coup, turning the country from a multi-party federal union into an authoritarian one-party state ordered to follow his “Burmese Path to Socialism”.

— 1988 —

Years of disastrous economic mismanagement and political repression see Burma erupt in protest. The military responds brutally, killing an estimated 3,000 people. Suu Kyi emerges as a key opposition leader.

— 1989 —

Junta changes the country’s name to Myanmar.

— 1990 —

Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy (NLD) wins a landslide victory in elections but the result is simply ignored by the military. Suu Kyi is placed under house arrest for much of the next 20 years. Many other opposition leaders are jailed or flee.

— 1991 —

Suu Kyi wins the Nobel Peace Prize while under house arrest.

— 1992 —

Than Shwe becomes the new junta chief.

— 2005 —

A new isolated city Naypyidaw (“Abode of Kings”) is revealed as the country’s capital after being built in secret.

— 2007 —

Major protests dubbed the “Saffron revolution” break out over the summer, partially led by Buddhist monks. The junta eventually responds once more with violence, killing scores of protesters.

— 2008 —

Vast swathes of the Irrawaddy Delta are devastated by Cyclone Nargis, which leaves some 138,000 people dead. The junta’s lackluster response draws widespread criticism.

— 2010 —

The junta holds elections in early November and the military-backed Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) claims victory. The NLD and many other parties refuse to take part. Observers do not consider the poll free or fair.

Less than a week after the election, Suu Kyi is released after spending 15 of the last 20 years under house arrest.

— 2011 —

In a surprise move, the junta cedes power to a quasi-civilian government under former general Thein Sein who pursues reforms. Many basic rights are restored, including the lifting of restrictions on assembly and expression, while hundreds of political prisoners are freed.

— 2012 —

The NLD wins 43 out of 45 seats in April by-elections. Suu Kyi becomes an MP. Western powers lift most sanctions. Sectarian violence flares in western Rakhine state, mainly aimed at the Rohingya Muslim minority.

— 2015 —

Suu Kyi’s NLD win a landslide November victory in the first free and fair elections in decades, prompting scenes of jubilation on the streets of Yangon.

— 2016 —

A lengthy power transition follows. Negotiations with the military to lift the bar on Suu Kyi becoming president bear no fruit. Instead she vows to rule through her proxy president Htin Kyaw, a close friend who is sworn in on March 30.

Source: AFP

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