Aung San Suu Kyi timeline: starting life in opposition to becoming Myanmar’s leader


Aung San Suu Kyi’s Nobel Prize, her party’s electoral gains, her passionate independence and her dedication to working for peace have won her many admirers. Aung San Suu Kyi, who visited the UK and the USA in the last three years alone, is very popular in her country, too, and more than 17 million Burmese signed a petition seeking her presidential nomination in March 2016.

Aung San Suu Kyi started her political career in Myanmar in 1988, through her student organisation, the National League for Democracy (NLD). She was released from house arrest in 2010, and in 2011 formed the party.

She voted in the third general election in 2015, but with a written statement that fell just short of saying who she supported. The results were not known for days – she did not vote again until after the conclusion of last year’s election. She was forced to wait nearly 24 hours for the official results, but it was still enough to give her party an overwhelming majority, giving the NLD a ruling majority in parliament.

The result was officially declared on 18 November, and the NLD government was soon in power, receiving the support of dozens of dissident groups and championing a new economic policy aimed at foreign investors.

Aung San Suu Kyi not only fulfilled her campaign promises of getting rid of economic sanctions and lifting the military dictatorship, but also made encouraging first steps toward political reconciliation by hosting a summit in 2012 of two ethnic armies to formally stop fighting.

Despite the clear mandate, she is still criticised for the systematic and arbitrary arrest and detention of political opposition figures, leading dissidents to boycott local elections in 2015. Her commitment to working for peace is also questioned by rights groups.

The highest point of Aung San Suu Kyi’s political career came when she won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1991 – more than a quarter of a century after she started her political career. Her five years in detention, however, left a greater legacy in the form of her lifelong commitment to achieving peace in the country.

In its last two months, this article will present a timeline of Aung San Suu Kyi’s career, from her time in opposition to her time in government.

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