Unexpected and dramatic reforms in Myanmar since 2011 have begun a transition in this country from half a century of military rule to a hybrid system of government. The military continues to maintain significant power, but competitive elections, a lively parliament, a more vibrant media, and a growing civil society have allowed for debates on a range of issues concerning the nature of the state and the development agenda that were previously not possible. Changes of this magnitude are extraordinarily challenging to manage and can themselves generate new dynamics that may undermine both the nascent democratic reforms and efforts to find a lasting solution to decades of ethnic conflicts. The need to rebuild the country’s political, economic and social institutions to meet the needs of citizens is critical, but is challenged by the significant capacity gap affecting all sectors while fundamental questions remain about the role of the military in the political system.
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