A specialist on Myanmar
Larry Jagan is a specialist on Myanmar and a former BBC World Service News editor for the region.
Myanmar's ruling National League for Democracy's electoral victory has emboldened its leaders to press on with major changes, including at the very top of the government. There is likely to be a new president -- though Aung San Suu Kyi in her role as State Counsellor will still effectively be running the country -- and a new look cabinet. In the meantime there is also likely to be a changing of the guard in the country's all-powerful military, or Tatmadaw.
Millions of Myanmar voters went to the polls last Sunday to voice their overwhelming support for democracy and their opposition to the military's involvement in politics. Throughout the country, people queued patiently and peacefully -- sometimes for up to two hours in the hot sun -- to mark their ballot papers in the polling stations.
Myanmar goes to the polls on Sunday in a critical election that will determine the country's future direction. At issue is the country's fragile political balance -- between the civilian government and the still very powerful military -- and more importantly, give renewed impetus to the current government's drive to reform the country and the constitution. This election gives the voters the chance to decide whether the National League for Democracy (NLD) government, led by the charismatic leader Aung San Suu Kyi, will be given a renewed mandate to push forward on the country's tentative reform path and strengthen its democratic institutions.
Myanmar's civilian government has made peace and national reconciliation a central platform of its administration since taking office in early 2016. But after almost five years very little has been achieved and the peace process is yet again precariously poised. The next stage -- the fourth round of the Panglong talks as Aung San Suu Kyi dubbed it after her historic electoral victory five years ago -- is scheduled to start today in the capital Nay Pyi Taw but is in danger of disintegrating into disarray.
Myanmar's ruling party -- the National League for Democracy (NLD) -- is in the final stages of preparing for parliamentary polls scheduled for Nov 8. These elections have taken an unexpected turn, largely as a result of the pandemic sweeping the world. Now, the country's civilian leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, appears destined to be returned to power, albeit with a reduced majority.
Myanmar is facing a very fraught time internationally as the conduct of its military comes under increasing scrutiny, while simultaneously the civilian government now admits it must take responsibility for what happened in the strife-torn western province of Rakhine over the past few years.
China's president Xi Jingping will today kick off a two-day state visit to Myanmar which is likely to set the course of their future bilateral relations. While the visit is highly significant for Beijing, Myanmar is more hesitant, fearing it is becoming over-dependent on its northern neighbour, according to analysts and diplomats. But the visit certainly is a public endorsement of the special relationship that has formed between the two countries, and may herald a new era of strengthened relationship.
International attention is firmly focused on Aung San Suu Kyi as she faces the judges in the International Court of Justice and presents Myanmar's side of the story.
Myanmar's top leaders -- both military and civilian -- have been shell-shocked by the avalanche of international legal cases they are now facing. In the space of days, three cases have been lodged in separate courts, all intended to make the Myanmar government and the country's military leaders accountable for the horrendous events that unfolded in strife-torn western Rakhine state during military operations over the last three years. These forced nearly a million Muslims, or Rohingya as they call themselves, to flee to safety in Bangladesh.