Washington, D.C. — With President Barack Obama in Myanmar for the 2014 East Asia Summit, attention has turned again to that country’s transition toward democracy. In an issue brief released today, the Center for American Progress analyzes Myanmar’s transition and calls for continued use of U.S. incentives to spur growth while withholding some steps toward full normalization of ties to encourage accountability.
Myanmar has been undergoing dramatic reform since 2011, implementing many positive political, legal, human rights, and economic reforms. Most political prisoners have been released; the opposition, including Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, have entered political life; the press is more free; ceasefires are in place with most ethnic rebel groups; and steps have been taken to protect basic human rights. But much remains to be done. Concerns remain about the willingness and ability of the government to move forward with additional reforms, including constitutional reform critical to establishing true democratic governance.
“Myanmar is a country looking to place itself in an improved position in Asia and the world,” said Vikram Singh, CAP Vice President for National Security and International Policy. “Serious reforms make that possible. While the country has made great strides, there are concerns that the process could stall. Building on significant political and legal reforms, Myanmar needs to deal with the continuing role of the military in civilian governance and deep ethnic and religious tension and intolerance. The United States should redouble efforts to support the reforms in Myanmar and resist the temptation to pull back when setbacks occur in some areas. This difficult reform process needs steady international support.”
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