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PacNet #32 – Burma’s New Challenges

The political situation in Burma is often understood in terms of conflict between pro-democracy forces (Aung San Suu Kyi and allies) and the military government. This is problematic for two reasons. First, following elections in November last year, Burma is best characterized as a mixed-authoritarian regime, rather than a military dictatorship. Second, in addition to the “democracy issue,” politics in Burma is shaped by historically rooted conflicts between a state associated with the Burman majority and the aspirations for self-determination of ethnic communities, who make up about 30 percent of the population. Thus, the repeated demands for tripartite dialogue – between the government, the democracy movement, and ethnic nationality communities.