On This Day

The Day Civilians Took Office in Myanmar After 53 Years of Military Rule

By The Irrawaddy 30 March 2022

On this day in 2016, a civilian government took office for the first time in 53 years in Myanmar following the National League for Democracy (NLD)’s victory in the November 2015 general election.

U Htin Kyaw was sworn in as president on March 30, 2016, at the parliament and went to the presidential residence where he took the presidential insignia from his predecessor, ex-general U Thein Sein of the Union Solidarity and Development Party in front of the Sihasana Palin (Lion Throne), the symbol of sovereignty.

Commander-in-Chief (now junta leader) Min Aung Hlaing, Vice President (now the regime’s acting president) U Myint Swe and NLD chair Daw Aung San Suu Kyi (now detained) were present. It was the first transfer of power to a civilian government since the 1962 coup when then military leader General Ne Win seized power from an elected government.

The NLD won the 1990 general election but the then regime refused to accept the results.

Despite the NLD government’s efforts at national reconciliation, tensions arose with the military, which saw the NLD as a threat to its role.

Under the military-drafted 2008 Constitution, the military retained control of three of the most powerful ministries: home affairs, border affairs and defense.

After the NLD won another majority in the 2020 election, Myanmar’s military used alleged electoral fraud as an excuse and seized power from the elected government.

The civilian government held office for less than five years with the limited powers offered by the 2008 Constitution.

U Myint Swe currently lives in the presidential residence and Min Aung Hlaing receives foreign diplomats and international dignitaries in front of the Lion Throne.

State Counselor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and President U Win Myint have been detained since the Feb. 1 coup and face long terms of imprisonment for an array of charges.

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