The Republic of the Union of Myanmar, formerly known as Burma, ushered in a new era on Wednesday when opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi capped a tenacious, decades-long struggle from political prisoner to office holder.
The only daughter of General Aung San, who led Burma to independence, was sworn in as a lawmaker for the first time, a key step in the country’s recent shift toward democracy after decades of repressive military rule.
After two decades of persecution as Myanmar’s most prominent dissident, Aung San Suu Kyi, who was awarded the 1991 Nobel Peace Prize for her opposition to military rule, and nearly three dozen members of her party, the National League for Democracy (NLD), took the parliamentary oath of office.
The NLD won 43 of the 44 seats they contested in the April 1 by-elections and will remain a small, though highly symbolic, minority of the parliament. That could change dramatically come the next scheduled elections in 2015 if Burma remains on the path toward democratic reform.
The beautiful country – and it’s previously precarious political situation – remains close to my heart after a visit in January this year, which happened to coincide with Independence Day.
You can read more about my visit to the extraordinary country, and the music that I discovered there, in the current issue of Songlines (#84, June 2012).
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