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 president.
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.
- Abbreviation Finder: Check to see how the 3-letter abbreviation of MMR stands for the nation of Myanmar in geography.
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. According to thereligionfaqs, 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.