From icon to politician : Aung San Suu Kyi's choice


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After nearly five years of quasi-civilian rule in a quasi-democratic framework, Myanmar is gearing up for the real thing. On 8 November, Myanmar will go to the polls for the first proper elections in more than 55 years. In a crowded political environment populated by military elites and their close associates, democratic activists, religious figures and ethnic minority leaders, much attention focuses on Aung San Suu Kyi. Unquestioned head of the opposition for more than 25 years and Nobel Peace Laureate in 1991, she remains today the most charismatic politician in her native land.

Suu Kyi faces a choice, however, that was not fully apparent when she was released from house arrest in 2010. Then, Myanmar’s dominant military machine had just pulled off a manipulated general election that secured power for itself and set the stage for a managed transition to democracy. Suu Kyi was invested with the hopes both of her own people as 'mother of the nation' (Amay Suu) and of many foreigners as an icon of democracy.

But soon she was challenged by deep-rooted issues that continue to plague Myanmar, and cast into doubt the very idea of a single nation.
Original languageEnglish
Specialist publicationThe Interpreter
PublisherLowy Institute
Publication statusPublished - 23 Jul 2015


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