October 19, 2010 / 5:57 AM / 9 years ago

CHRONOLOGY - Myanmar's troubled political history

REUTERS - Myanmar’s military government will hold a multi-party election on Nov. 7, its first in two decades in a country that has not seen democracy for 48 years.

Here is a chronology tracing the former Burma’s long and rocky road to civilian rule.

- July 19, 1947 - General Aung San, the architect of Burma’s independence from Britain, is assassinated in Yangon along with six members of his pre-independence cabinet.

- Jan 4, 1948: The Union of Burma declares independence. A new charter establishes a bicameral parliament.

- March 1962: General Ne Win launches a military coup. He discards the constitution and establishes a Revolutionary Council of military leaders who rule by decree.

- March 1974: A new constitution transfers power from the armed forces to a People’s Assembly of former military leaders headed by Ne Win. It allows for a unicameral legislature and one legal political party. Ne Win is installed as President.

- 1988: Ne Win resigns as decades of economic strife and ethnic tensions boil over into anti-government riots in which more than 3,000 people are killed. The military takes direct power under the name the State Law and Order Restoration Council (SLORC), and annuls the constitution.

- June 19, 1989: The military government changes the official name of the country from Burma to the Union of Myanmar.

- July 20, 1989: - Aung San’s daughter, Aung San Suu Kyi, leader of the National League for Democracy (NLD) party, is placed under house arrest for “endangering the state”.

- May 27, 1990: The NLD wins 392 of 485 seats in the first multi-party general election since 1960.

- June 19, 1990: SLORC chief Saw Maung rules out a quick transfer of power, saying a new constitution is needed first.

- Oct 14, 1991: Suu Kyi is awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, while under house arrest.

- 1992: Senior General Than Shwe becomes head of the junta and prime minister. Plans for a new constitution are announced.

- Jan 9, 1993: A National Convention on a new constitution is abruptly adjourned after delegates oppose a clause stating the military must have the leading political role.

- July 10, 1995: Suu Kyi is freed after four years and 355 days under house arrest.

- Nov 28, 1995: Convention reconvenes. NLD pulls out, saying the process does not represent the will of the people.

- July 29, 1997: Myanmar’s foreign minister says a new constitution is being finalised, a week after the country joins the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN).

- Nov 15, 1997: SLORC changes its name to the State Peace and Development Council. The 19-member SPDC includes former SLORC chairman Than Shwe and intelligence chief Khin Nyunt.

- Sept. 22, 2000 - Suu Kyi is placed under house arrest.

- May 6, 2002: Suu Kyi is released.

- Aug 30, 2003: New Prime Minister Khin Nyunt announces a 7-step “roadmap to democracy”, but gives no firm timetable.

- May 30, 2003 - Suu Kyi is placed under “protective custody” in her home after her motorcade was attacked by pro-junta thugs.

- May 17, 2004: National Convention reconvenes without the NLD, which boycotts talks while Suu Kyi is under house arrest. The process stutters for three years and makes little progress.

- Sept. 3, 2007: Convention completes work after 14 years working out the broad outline of a “disciplined” democracy.

- Oct 18, 2007: Junta appoints 54-member commission, mostly military officers and civil servants, to draft a constitution.

- Aug-Sept, 2007: A sharp rise in fuel prices sparks the biggest protests in 20 years. Monk-led demonstrations are crushed by soldiers, killing at least 31 people and sparking international outrage and more sanctions against the regime.

- Feb 9, 2008: Junta announces referendum on new constitution in May, followed by multi-party elections in 2010. Critics call it a sham aimed at deflecting international pressure.

- May 10/May 26, 2008: Referendum takes place on two dates, because of a hurricane that left 134,000 dead or missing in the Irrawaddy delta. The regime declares 92.48 percent of voters backed the constitution, with a turnout of 98.1 percent.

- March 9, 2010: Government announces the first of five election laws, including one that bans serving prisoners, including Suu Kyi, from involvement. The Union Election Commission (UEC) is later appointed to oversee the polls.

- March 11, 2010: Junta annuls the result of the 1990 polls it ignored, saying the vote breached election laws that were published 19 years later. No election date is announced.

- March 29, 2010: NLD members vote unanimously to boycott the polls over “unfair and unjust” election laws.

- April 26, 2010: At least 27 government ministers, including premier Thein Sein, resign from their military posts to run as civilian candidates in a new political party, the Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP)

- May 7, 2010: Deadline passes for existing parties to re-register. The NLD fails to sign up and is effectively disbanded. A new party of renegade NLD members, the National Democratic Force (NDF), is formed, a move that angers Suu Kyi.

- Aug. 14, 2010: UEC announces the election will take place on Nov. 7, a week before the scheduled release of Suu Kyi. Parties complain they have insufficient time to prepare.

- Aug 27, 2010: A military reshuffle list is leaked showing that dozens of generals have been retired to join pro-junta political parties. No announcement is made. Rumours swirl that Than Shwe had also resigned to become a presidential candidate.

- Aug 31, 2010: Deadline passes for parties to submit candidates. Proxies of the junta say they will contest nearly all of the 1,158 constituencies. The biggest pro-democracy party, the NDF, says it has the means to run in only 166 constituencies.

- Sept 14, 2010: UEC gives the green light to 37 parties to run in the polls, but only two — both of which are pro-military — will contest more than 14 percent of the seats.

- Sept 16, 2010: UEC announces voting has been scrapped in hundreds of villages in ethnic regions where the political climate “is not conducive to free and fair elections”.

- Sept 24, 2010: A local UEC source says Suu Kyi’s name is on the list of eligible voters, even though the constitution bars prisoners from the ballot. Suu Kyi later says she will not vote.

- Oct. 18, 2010: The UEC says all foreign journalists and observers will be banned from overseeing the polls. The UEC said observers were not needed because Myanmar had “abundant experience” in holding elections”.

Compiled by Bangkok Newsroom; Editing by Jason Szep

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