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Modern Myanmar's political metamorphosis from dictatorship towards democracy has resulted in lifting the heavy burden of political and financial sanctions and led to an influx of tourists and foreign investors. Newly formed joint ventures have strengthened ties between Myanmar and countries in Asia and beyond. The former cash-based economy is transforming into a modern credit-based system. During the last three years, global brands have brought infrastructure and job opportunities. Despite economic progress being yet to be matched by advances in some other sectors, including education, the people remain hopeful that further political reforms will lead to a more equal and free society. Much credit must be given to those whose vision has driven the emergence of the new Myanmar, for it those who are most adaptable to change that survive in the age of globalisation.

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How will the US frame further lifting of its sanctions?

US sanctions against Myanmar go a long way back. In May 1997, President Bill Clinton signed Executive Order 13047 in response to the repression and persecution of the opposition by the then ruling military government. Several executive orders were issued after that, followed in 2003 by the Burmese Freedom and Democracy Act, a costfree vehicle for the troubled Bush administration to polish its tainted human rights record, and the Tom Lantos Block Burmese JADE Act of 2008.

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A Kayin State village, in an undated file photo. Ethnic minority groups have differing peceptions of what federalism will mean for them. Photo: Mizzima
A Kayin State village, in an undated file photo. Ethnic minority groups have differing peceptions of what federalism will mean for them. Photo: Mizzima

After more than three years and a dozen meetings the Government Peace-Making Work Committee and the Nationwide Ceasefire Co-ordination Team announced during the latest round of talks that the pledge to adopt a federal system, a key demand of the ethnic minorities, has been included in the draft text of the national peace accord.

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An historic tripartite meeting among representatives of the Government of Myanmar, political parties and ethnic armed groups took place at the Myanmar Peace Center on August 18. It was an historic event in the sense that they met for the first time in Myanmar's history. It was also significant that the meeting took place on the third anniversary of the beginning of the peace process.

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'Federalism is no longer a taboo subject and it no longer appears to be a distant prospect in Myanmar'

In my writings a decade ago, I predicted that federalism was a distant objective for Myanmar. I supported federalism but given the political and conflict conditions then I was not wrong to make such as assumption.

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Propaganda-poster-for-KIA
Propaganda poster for the Kachin Independence Army.

There is not a conversation or discussion on the Myanmar peace process that does not include two words: “trust” and “distrust”. As far as the peace process is concerned, no matter who speaks on any given occasion, the two words are either mentioned in passing or featured prominently.

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