Myanmar 2016: from enthusiasm to disillusionment

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2016 was the year when political change finally came to Myanmar. After a five-year transition from military rule to a (semi-)civilian government, the two electoral rounds of November 2015 (parliamentary) and March 2016 (presidential) ushered in a new phase of formally – if substantially constrained – democratic politics. The 2015 (direct) elections were the real watershed event between two political eras, with the 2016 (indirect) ones representing the completion of NLD leader Aung San Suu Kyi’s victory. This article reviews the events of 2016, and shows that the year can best be understood as a tale of two contrasting halves. Initially, the government laid out its priorities in domestic, economic and foreign policy. It identified peace-building as the first priority. The first part of the year proceeded relatively smoothly, without major mistakes by the government, whereas the second was marked by increasing tensions and incidents in Rakhine State in the south west. An attack in October by a Rohingya militant organization against border police sparked clashes that led to a crackdown by the army and a renewed flow of refugees into neighbouring Bangladesh. Criticism of the plight of the Rohingya community is growing outside the country. Myanmar’s transition is clearly still very much a work-in-progress.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)261-275
Number of pages15
JournalAsia Maior
Issue number1
Early online date11 Jul 2017
Publication statusPublished - 2017


  • Myanmar
  • Transition
  • Backsliding
  • Democratization
  • Burma
  • Conflict
  • Aid
  • Aung San Suu Kyi
  • National League for Democracy
  • Military


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