Myanmar’s new President is not Aung San Suu Kyi. She cannot be President because of a junta-inspired law that prohibits a Burmese who has married a foreigner, or has children from a foreigner, from becoming head of state. The Burmese people voted for Ms Suu Kyi, and she has done the next best thing in making her confidant Htin Kyaw the President, the first genuine civilian in the post in decades.
The fact that Myanmar has returned to democratic practices like holding parliamentary elections represents a massive breakthrough as 54 years have passed since the generals took power. The military brass has counterbalanced the return to democracy in getting in a hardliner, former intelligence chief Myint Swe, as one of two vice-presidents. Even so, the signs are hopeful as the world opens up to Myanmar after decades of isolation during which China was the sole window to world trade.
Suu Kyi will have to play her role shrewdly if she is to make institutions of democracy regenerate and flourish with a sustained push from all sections, most of all the people. The path is tricky: a proxy President could grow vulnerable if Ms Suu Kyi isn’t able to keep the Army brass in check. In staying engaged with Myanmar, India may have helped the West achieve the breakthroughs, including in keeping open channels of communication with Suu Kyi.
The stakes are even higher for India now to develop closer ties with Myanmar since the countries share a 1,600-km border. Having encouraged the India-educated Suu Kyi, it is India’s bounden duty to enable her to rebuild Myanmar as a true democracy....