In Myanmar, 2016 arrived to an atmosphere of cautious optimism. Few had expected the overwhelming victory of Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy (NLD) in the general elections six weeks before.
Outgoing president U Thein Sein, and the military chiefs behind him, stuck by their promise that the transition to the country’s first democratically-elected government in almost 50 years would take place peacefully.
While the 21st Century Panglong meeting drew foreign dignatories as high in profile as UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon, the event itself did little to significantly advance the peace process. Indeed, the country’s largest and most powerful ethnic armed force, the United Wa State Army, walked out on the first day.
In the northern Shan and Kachin states fighting rages between former ethnic allies, as well as against the Tatmadaw (Myanmar Armed Forces) and has displaced thousands of civilians.
The surprise announcement in September that former UN secretary-general Kofi Annan would head a new independent Rakhine Advisory Commission was seen by some that maybe the new democracy was starting to bring dividends. More cynical observers linked the sudden move to address what had become a matter of international concern with Suu Kyi’s trip to Washington DC, days later. There she was to successfully persuade US president Barack Obama to lift the last remaining sanctions on Myanmar.
With violence in ethnic minority areas at its worst since reforms began in 2012 hopes are floundering that Suu Kyi has the power or even the desire to bring change.
Source > thenational.ae