Burma. According to
countryaah, the current population of Myanmar is 54,409,811. Burma got its first civilian president in 50 years
in March when Parliament appointed Htin Kyaw from the ruling
National Democratic Alliance (NLD). He is seen as close
confidant to NLD leader Aung San Suu Kyi. She was prohibited
from running for office in accordance with the constitution
previously enforced by the military.
Former General Myint Swe became First Vice President. He
was nominated by the military, which, according to the
Constitution, secured a quarter of the seats in both
chambers. NLD's Henry Van Thio was named second vice
Parliament approved the President's proposal shortly
thereafter. Suu Kyi became Foreign Minister. It gives her a
place in the powerful Security Council dominated by the
military. Six of the government's 18 members belonged to the
NLD, three militaries are responsible for defense, borders
and internal security, three were from the
military-supported Union Solidarity and Development Party
(USDP), the others were technocrats.
China's Foreign Minister Wang Yi was her first foreign
visitor in April. His visit coincided with the fact that,
despite the military protests, Parliament appointed Aung San
Suu Kyi as presidential adviser. The post, which is similar
to a prime minister, is not mentioned in the Constitution,
but further strengthens her leadership role. Suu Kyi visited
China in August and discussed economic cooperation.
At the end of August, the government, the military and
representatives of 17 of the country's 20 largest ethnic
groups, as well as their armies, gathered in the presence
of, among others, UN chief Ban Ki Moon. Known as the
Panglong Conference, it is part of the government's pledge
to end many long-standing civil disputes and give ethnic
minorities such as Kachin, Shan and Wa greater
self-government. The Wastaten United Army (UWSA) submitted
in protest that they had only been granted observer status.
No breakthroughs were achieved, but the government intends
to hold the meetings every six months.
While the conference was underway, fighting between the
military and smaller guerrilla groups in the Kachin State
and Shan State was reported.
In a speech to the UN General Assembly in September, Suu
Kyi promised to work for a solution for the country's
minorities. She also visited the White House, where
President Barack Obama promised to lift most of the United
States remaining sanctions, which happened in October. This
makes it easier for American companies and banks to do
business in Burma.
Her foreign trips also included Laos - for a summit
within the framework of the ASEAN collaboration organization
- as well as to India and Japan, which are important trading
partners. Japan never imposed trade sanctions under Burma's
military rule. In March, trading was opened on the Burmese
stock exchange, but only a handful of companies were listed.
During the year, continued attention was focused on the
Muslim minority, Rohingya. The UN and other organizations
have criticized the widespread oppression Rohingya is facing
in the state of Rakhine by the Buddhist majority.
In August, the government appointed former UN chief Kofi
Annan to lead a commission to see how their position could
be improved. More than 120,000 live in refugee camps after
extensive ethnic violence in 2012. Another was evicted
during a visit to Rakhine in September. The party ruling the
state, the Arakan Nationalist Party (ANP), as well as the
opposition USDP and other parties demanded that the
Commission be dissolved.
A new wave of violence hit Rakhine after nine police
officers were killed in early October at the border with
Bangladesh. It was unclear who carried out the attacks. The
military fought back hard. By mid-November, more than 100
people were reported to have been killed and hundreds
arrested. Curfew was introduced in a border district and
civilians testified about violence, rape and abuse, which
the military denied. Aid organizations and media were denied
access so it was difficult to verify the information. Human
rights group Human Right Watch published satellite images
showing how several villages were burned down. Bangladesh
stated in December that the country has received 50,000
refugees since October, although some were sent back. Suu
Kyi was criticized for not renouncing the violence and in
several neighboring countries demonstrations were held
against the Burma government.