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Myanmar Politics

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.

Political System of Myanmar

GOVERNMENT

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 power.

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.

Policy

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 For example, the law banning penalized persons from running for election was repealed.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 power.

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.

Judiciary

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.

Human Rights

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

Presidents

1948-52 Sao Shwe Thaik
1952-57 Ba U
1957-62 Win Maung
1962 Sama Duwa Sinwa Nawng
1962-81 Ne Win
1981-88 San Yu
1988 Signal Lwin
1988-92 Saw Maung
1992-2011 Than Shwe
2011-16 Thein Sein
2016-18 Htin Kyaw
2018- Win Myint
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