But keeping them there could be fraught with problems, ICG report says, writes Asia Sentinel.
Burma/Myanmar’s feared military, the Tatmadaw, which dominated the country’s politics and economy for decades until democracy came in 2010, has been returning to the barracks much faster and more completely than anyone could have imagined, according to a new report by the Brussels-based International Crisis Group.
The civilian government has won praise from government leaders across the planet, although in recent months there has been growing concern over corruption, alarming racial bias against the Rohingya Muslim minority and clear threats to the freedom of the press.
In fact, just how democratic the regime will turn out to be remains a question. Many observers expect the government to evolve into a quasi-authoritarian regime with rigged elections such as those in Singapore and Malaysia.
Nonetheless, a new generation of leaders in the military and the government is behind the transition, according to the report. But, it says, “major questions remain about the Tatmadaw’s intention, its ongoing involvement in the economy and politics, and whether and within what timeframe it will accept to be brought under civilian control.”
The new country was almost torn apart by communist insurrection in the center and ethnic insurgency in the periphery. In a troubling parallel to the current government, “the early years of parliamentary democracy were characterized by factionalism and infighting, which many in the Tatmadaw saw as driven by self-serving politicians having little regard for the national interest,” the report notes, with many in the military continuing to be distrustful of civilian politicians.