Written by Staff Writer By Roberto Spagnuolo, CNN Written by Staff Writer
Aung San Suu Kyi has been locked in a military prison for the last 18 months. Her personal popularity has taken a hit along with her reputation and a political crisis in the Southeast Asian country, with many now calling for the Nobel Peace Prize Laureate to step down as the country’s de facto leader.
This year, in a bid to avoid a military takeover, President Win Myint initiated elections in Myanmar, ending Suu Kyi’s half-decade opposition. While the results were successful for the military-backed Union Solidarity and Development Party, the party failed to achieve majority by the minimum 50% threshold and will form a caretaker government in the months ahead.
One of the key promises made by former ruling party, the Union Solidarity and Development Party, which won last year’s election , was a return to democracy in the country. The ensuing political turmoil started in late 2016 when the police detained Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy and used unnecessary and violent means in order to make an example of the party.
In November, Win Myint – who is a former general-elect of the military – said he would like to see Aung San Suu Kyi with a political party above the 50% threshold this time round. If this came to pass, a new general election will be called within 120 days.
That could change the equation completely and possibly allow Aung San Suu Kyi to take back her position as party leader. But the question remains — what role will she play? In the meantime, her followers and critics are forced to choose between loyalty to her and opposition to the military, a toxic position in politics in Myanmar.
1 / 8 Reuters Myanmar State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi said in a statement to state media on December 1, 2017 that she plans to run as her party’s candidate in the upcoming by-elections. Credit: Aung Shine Oo/Reuters
A new timeline for Myanmar
This puts the ability of the forthcoming administration to govern the country into doubt, as relations between the newly-elected parliament and the military are likely to be rocky.
“The former government was paralyzed by the military and dominated by military officers,” said Tin Myo Win, a social activist.
“The country needs a way forward, if it hasn’t reached the point of no return already. [Win Myint] should respect the wishes of the people, who rejected their candidate by a wide margin.”
Win Myint-Yin from the United Nationalities Federal Council, a powerful ethnic group that has refused to join the current party, says he welcomes competition.
“Alliances will be formed for development, like the Maungdaw district, where several ethnic minority parties have joined. Aung San Suu Kyi can also unite different ethnic parties,” he said.