Over the weekend, pro-democracy activist and Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi was elected to Myanmar’s parliament in a landmark vote. It’s a historic moment for the country; after years of house arrest, Suu Kyi appears poised to finally step into a role of real power. What's the best way to build a real democracy? Do events in Myanmar offer a model for democratic transitions elsewhere? Suzanne DiMaggio is Vice President for global policy programs at the Asia Society. Robert Lieber is professor of government and international affairs at Georgetown University.
It was only a few years ago the Bush administration labeled Myanmar "an outpost of tyranny." But on Wednesday, Hillary Clinton became the first secretary of state to visit the repressive and isolated nation in 50 years. The Obama administration has been keen on engaging with the military-backed civilian government of Myanmar after the country made some significant democratic reforms. In the past year, elections were held for a nominally civilian government, and pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi was released from house arrest after two decades. Yet even as changes take hold in Rangoon, persecution against the country's ethnic minorities continue.