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World News

Timeline: Myanmar's troubled recent past, ahead of November 8 polls

YANGON (Reuters) - Myanmar goes to the polls on November 8 in its second general election since the end of full military rule in 2011.

FILE PHOTO: Myanmar's leader Aung San Suu Kyi attends a hearing on the second day of hearings in a case filed by Gambia against Myanmar alleging genocide against the minority Muslim Rohingya population, at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague, Netherlands December 11, 2019. REUTERS/Yves Herman

Here is a timeline of some key events in the nation’s recent rocky history:

November 2015: The National League for Democracy (NLD) led by Aung San Suu Kyi wins a general election by a landslide and Suu Kyi assumes power in a specially created role of state counsellor. She vows to resolve the country’s myriad ethnic conflicts, attract foreign investment and continue reforms started by former general Thein Sein.

October 2016: Rohingya militants attack three police border posts in Rakhine State, killing nine police officers. Myanmar’s military then carry out a security operation, resulting in some 70,000 people leaving the area for neighbouring Bangladesh.

Aug. 25, 2017: Rohingya militants launch attacks across Rakhine, triggering a military-led campaign that drives more than 730,000 Rohingya into Bangladesh. The United Nations says the campaign of mass killing, rape, and arson was carried out with “genocidal intent”, which Myanmar denies. Suu Kyi says “terrorists” are behind an “iceberg of misinformation”.

January 2019: New fighting begins in Rakhine between government troops and the Arakan Army (AA), an insurgent group seeking greater regional autonomy that recruits from the mostly Buddhist Rakhine ethnic minority. Suu Kyi urges the army to “crush” the rebels.

Nov. 11: Mostly Muslim Gambia files a genocide case against Myanmar at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) over its expulsion of the Rohingya.

Dec. 11: Suu Kyi appears at the ICJ in the Hague and rejects accusations of genocide against the Rohingya as “incomplete and misleading” but says war crimes may have been committed.

September 2020: The novel coronavirus sweeps Myanmar, which had previously been mostly spared. The government locks down Yangon, the commercial capital, and other areas but insists the Nov. 8 election will go ahead.

Sept. 22: Thomas Andrews, the U.N. human rights investigator to Myanmar, says the polls will fail to meet international standards because of the disenfranchisement of hundreds of thousands of Rohingya. Of at least a dozen Rohingya who apply to run as candidates in the election, six are rejected.

Oct. 17: Myanmar’s election commission cancels voting in vast swathes of Rakhine State, where fighting with the AA has killed dozens and displaced tens of thousands. Some areas “are not in a position to hold a free and fair election”, the commission says.

Writing by Poppy Elena McPherson; Editing by Karishma Singh and Robert Birsel

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