State and politics
After 48 years of military rule, Burma 2010 formally
became a civil-led parliamentary democracy. At that time,
general elections were conducted according to the new
constitution approved in a 2008 referendum. Work on this had
been going on since the beginning of the 1990s and was
mainly carried out by persons loyal to the military regime.
The 2008 constitution opens for democracy but
nevertheless provides the defense force with continued
control over the country's leadership, mainly because a
quarter of the seats in both parliament's chambers are
reserved for military appointed by the commander-in-chief.
This quarter of the members can block all attempts by the
civil representatives to make constitutional changes. In
addition, a large majority of the elected seats are held by
representatives of the party formed by former military, the
Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP). The
Constitution also states that in the event of a crisis
situation that threatens the country's cohesion - not more
precisely - the commander-in-chief has the right to assume
Already during the work, the Constitution was criticized
for deliberately making it impossible for opposition leader
Aung San Suu Kyi, awarded the 1991 Nobel Peace Prize for his
work for democracy, to be elected to a high office. The post
may not be held by a person with family ties to a foreign
citizen. Aung San Suu Kyi was married to a British man. Nor
can a person convicted by a court be elected to Parliament.
Aung San Suu Kyi has been convicted of house arrest on
numerous occasions since 1989. See ABBREVIATIONFINDER for how BM can stand for Myanmar.
After the elections held in 2010, the military handed
over the official power to the USP formed by the junta,
which received the majority of the votes in the election.
After the new parliament was installed and a new
president, Thein Sein, was elected, to the surprise of the
outside world, a series of reforms in the democratic
direction (see history). For example, the law banning
penalized persons from running for election was repealed.
This paved the way for Aung San Suu Kyi and her National
League for Democracy party to re-openly work politically; In
2012, she was elected to Parliament in a general election.
The regime also took the initiative to end the armed
conflicts with ethnic minorities. However, the reforms did
not mean that the military gave up its decisive political
The 2015 election, which was designated as the country's
first Democrat, was held on November 8 and already the
following day it was clear that the NLD would win by a wide
margin. Htay Oo, chairman of the ruling party USDP,
acknowledged early defeat and emphasized that one will
accept the election result. Htin Kyaw, who is closely allied
with Aung San Suu Kyi, became the country's new president
and swore in 2016. Aung San Suu Kyi, who himself is barred
from becoming president because of a clause in Burma's
constitution, was appointed foreign minister but indirectly
governs the country.
The country's judicial system still has a British
heritage, but like all countries with Buddhist state
religion, the local custom is of great importance. The
judiciary with several bodies has a chief judge appointed by
the sitting military government. The death penalty remains
in the legislation but is de facto abolished in 1980.
After decades of military dictatorship, international
isolation and domestic ethnic conflicts, Burma gained a
civilian government in 2011. However, the general elections
held in 2010 were criticized by large parts of the outside
world for being neither free nor fair and the military
remains in power thanks to the new parliament leaving 25
percent of the seats for them.
President Thein Sein has initiated certain reforms in the
democratic direction, and a large number of political
prisoners were released in 2011-12.
Despite these approaches, respect for human rights is
still low in the country. Impunity is common and many
serious and systematic abuses are not investigated, and
responsibility is rarely required. The Burmese military
executes extra-judicial executions, attacks on civilians,
forced labor and torture. In addition, Burma is one of the
few countries in the world that continued to deploy land
mines (troop mines) in the 2010s as part of the war on
resistance guerrillas. A very large number of land mines are
deployed, especially in the southwestern part of the
country, in the border region with Thailand. This has
resulted in a large number of killed and injured civilians.
Sexual violence against women and girls is a serious
problem, and marital rape is not criminalized. Several
non-governmental armed groups employ and recruit child
soldiers, and the UN agencies that seek to seek out and
rehabilitate and re-educate children in society are actively
hindered in their execution by the government.
It is noteworthy that while the Women's Convention
together with the Children's Convention are the only
international human rights conventions ratified by Burma,
women and children are particularly vulnerable in the
country. Extensive trafficking takes place with young girls
being sent across the border and forced labor is prevalent.
After 50 years, in 2012, the censorship of print media
was abolished, but freedom of expression and printing is
still very limited. The self-censorship is extensive. In
Reporters Without Borders Press Freedom Index 2015, Burma is
ranked 144th out of 180 countries which, despite its low
ranking, is an improvement from the 174th place in 2010.
Several ethnic conflicts are ongoing or are latent in
different parts of the country. Many minorities do not feel
like part of the nation, and discrimination against the
Muslim minority people Rohingya has become clearer.
The government limits their right to free movement,
education and employment and their rights are often violated
in connection with, for example, land confiscation, forced
relocation and forced labor.
Heads of State
||Sao Shwe Thaik
||Sama Duwa Sinwa Nawng