Myanmar in 2019: 'the Lady and the Generals' redux?

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The year 2019 has been extremely eventful for Myanmar, at home and abroad. Nearly three years have passed since the Myanmar military’s ‘clearance operations’ in northern Rakhine state, which led to the exodus of hundreds of thousands of Rohingya refugees to neighbouring Bangladesh, where they are still temporarily settled in refugee camps south of Cox’s Bazar. Despite several aborted repatriation attempts, there is still no sign of a process that would not only see Rohingya refugees return to Rakhine state, but also of a system that would force the Myanmar authorities to regularise their status, let alone kick-start a reconciliation process. Politics in the country remains in flux, with State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi (‘the Lady’, as she is commonly known in the country) and the military (the ‘Generals’) at times agreeing and coordinating their actions, whilst at others competing with each other. Throughout the year, this has taken the form of a multi-cornered struggle over constitutional reform, with the political conflict set to intensify as the campaign for the 2020 parliamentary elections gets underway.
Overall, three issues defined the year: first was the outbreak of a new insurgency in Rakhine state led by the Arakan Army, which later spread across the country’s northern and eastern borderlands. Next was the start of pre-election manoeuvring, with different parties vying for popular support. Last but not least, was the hearing at the International Court of Justice in The Hague in December, where State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi represented Myanmar, accused of genocide and failure to prevent genocide against the Rohingya in August 2017.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)311-326
JournalAsia Maior
Publication statusPublished - 10 Jul 2020


  • Myanmar
  • Asia
  • Bangladesh
  • Aung San Suu Kyi
  • Tatmadaw
  • South-East Asia
  • Constitutional reform
  • Ethnic armed insurgency
  • Rakhine
  • Rohingya
  • ICJ
  • Genocide


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