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Asia

Timeline: Change in Myanmar

Myanmar, the country formerly known as Burma, has been reforming since 2010. Step for step, the country is undergoing a process of democratization, as the timeline shows.

2010

November

The military-backed Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) claimed a decisive victory in the first elections in 20 years. According to assessments by a number of observers, the polls are neither free nor fair. The junta speaks of a transition: the military regime had transformed into a civilian government.

Opposition groups and most Western nations label the elections a farce.

A week after the poll, Nobel Peace Prize laureate Aung San Suu Kyi is released from house arrest.

2011

March

Former General Thein Sein is sworn in as the country's new president, thus completing the transition to a civilian government.

May

The new government grants general amnesty to thousands of prisoners - but only to few political prisoners.

epa02874977 A handout photo released by the Myanmar News Agency shows Myanmar democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi (L) and President Thein Sein posing for a photo before their meeting at the presidential office in Naypyitaw, Myanmar, 19 August 2011. Democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi was feted by Myanmar's pro-military government in what appeared to be a move towards approchement. Suu Kyi, who spent 15 of the past 21 years under house arrest, was invited to the capital 19 August to meet President Thein Sein, who later introduced her to his wife and family, sources said. EPA/MNA / HANDOUT HANDOUT EDITORIAL USE ONLY/NO SALES

Suu Kyi met the president in the old military regime's new capital

August

Aung San Suu Kyi starts her campaign throughout the country. She meets President Thein Sein in the new capital Naypydaw - a new city created by the government.

September

The president calls for a stop to the construction of the Myitsone Dam - a joint Chinese project. The step is considered by observers as a rejection of one of Myanmar's most important allies and as a positive step in opening the country to the West.

October

200 political prisoners are released.

November

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) agrees to let Myanmar chair the group in 2014. Aung San Suu Kyi announces her candidacy in parliamentary by-elections. Her party, the National League for Democracy (NLD) thus reenters the political process.

December

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton travels to Myanmar. She signals an improvement in bilateral relations and an easing of sanctions should the process of democratization continue. Washington's top diplomat meets with Aung San Suu Kyi and President Thein Sein.

For the first time in decades, the government allows peaceful demonstrations. It signs a ceasefire agreement with Shan rebels in the east of the country and stops all military operations against the Kachin in the far north.

2012

January

The government signs a ceasefire agreement with the ethnic Karen minority group.

Hundreds of prisoners are released - a number of whom are prominent dissidents, like leaders and monks who participated of the 1988 pro-democracy student movement.

March

German Development Minister Dirk Niebel travels to Myanmar to discuss an increase in Germany's development aid.

Myanmar's Opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi asks a question during a regular session of the parliament

Suu Kyi's party won the majority of the few seats being contested

April

The NLD wins in the first free election since 1990. It wins 43 out of 45 parliamentary seats. The by-election is not of vital importance regarding power in the parliament's decision making processes, as the parliament is still dominated by (former) generals. The symbolic effect, nonetheless, is of great value. International observers deem the poll fair and free. In response to the election, the US announces it will revoke most of its sanctions.

German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle travels to Myanmar and pledges German aid for long term reforms towards democracy. Shortly before his trip, the EU lifts sanctions against Myanmar with the exception of its weapons embargo.

May

Aung San Suu Kyi on her first trip abroad in 24 years travels to Thailand. At an economic forum in Bangkok, she seeks to attract investment.

June

Suu Kyi begins her trip to Europe. At the end of her trip, she accepts the Nobel Peace Prize in person - after a 21-year-delay. In London she addresses the British parliament - an honor only previously awarded to Nelson Mandela.

A bloody conflict breaks out in the northwest of the country between the Buddhist majority and the Muslim Rohingya minority.

July

At an ASEAN summit in Phnom Penh, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton introduces President Thein Sein to American businesspeople.

August

The Myanmar government eases censorship laws for print media. Not long after, it shortens its blacklist - a document which lists people prohibited from entering the country. Many of those on the list were participants in the student protests of 1988 who had gone into exile.

September

In Mandalay, Buddhist monks stage protests against Muslim minority Rohingya.

Suu Kyi arrives in the US for a trip ecompassing visits to several states, receiving awards and meeting Myanmar refugees.

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