Monday, March 21, 2016

241.4 - Good News: Myanmar chooses its president from first free and open elections

Good News: Myanmar chooses its president from first free and open elections

More Good News comes from the international front.

On March 15, the parliament of Myanmar - or Burma - elected Htin Kyaw as the country’s new president, making him not only the nation's first civilian president but the head of the first government to be chosen there in free and fair elections.

This was after a landslide victory in elections this past November by the National League for Democracy, headed by the well-known democracy activist Aung San Suu Kyi. Myanmar had been under direct or indirect military rule for 54 years, since a coup in 1962.

In one sense, he is not the president: Everyone knows he is the proxy of Suu Kyi, who has been the face of the pro-democracy movement for 28 years and has endured threats, harassment, and decades of house arrest by the military dictatorship, becoming one of the best-known political prisoners in the world, without ever abandoning a nonviolent campaign for the freedom of her country and its people.

Aung San Suu Kyi
When, after repeated waves of protest and the increasing opprobrium of the international community finally forced the generals to back down in 2010, they pulled off one last trick of establishing a new constitution under which they are guaranteed three ministries and enough parliamentary seats to give them a veto over moves to change that constitution - and which barred Suu Kyi from the presidency.

So, unable to choose the person who should have been president, the majority of Parliament chose someone who has been her close friend and confidant since the mid-1990s.

There is still far to go in Myanmar and the military still has too much power. But choosing the president of the first government picked in free and fair elections is no small thing. In fact, it is damn Good News.

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