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Key events in Myanmar’s post-junta moves to reform

(AP) – Myanmar’s government gave way to a civilian administration last year after four decades of military rule. The new government embarked on a surprising array of reforms, prompted in part by a desire to turn around its image as a repressive regime and get Western sanctions lifted:

_Nov. 7, 2010: Myanmar’s ruling junta stages a general election. It’s the country’s first since 1990, when Aung San Suu Kyi’s party won a landslide victory only to have the military bar it from taking power. A military-backed party wins overwhelming control of the parliament in the 2010 vote.

_Nov. 13, 2010: Suu Kyi is released from house arrest.

_Feb. 4, 2011: The new parliament selects former prime minister and retired Lt. Gen. Thein Sein as president.

_March 30, 2011: Thein Sein takes office at the head of a nominally civilian government, the country’s first since a 1962 coup. His Cabinet comprises mostly retired army officers like himself.

_May 17, 2011: More than 14,000 convicts are released under an amnesty, but they include just a few dozen of an estimated 2,000 political prisoners.

_Aug. 11, 2011: Suu Kyi urges the government to reconsider its plans for the Chinese-funded Myitsone dam, opposed by social and environmental activists.

_Aug. 14, 2011: Suu Kyi tests the new government’s tolerance by making her first political trip out of town since her release. The previous military government had barred such trips, uneasy at the enthusiastic crowds she drew.

_Aug. 19, 2011: Suu Kyi meets President Thein Sein and says she is satisfied with their talks. The leader of the former ruling junta, Senior Gen. Than Shwe, had refused dialogue with the Nobel Peace laureate.

_Sept. 15, 2011: Restrictions on media are eased and once-blocked websites are opened for viewing, include Voice of America and British Broadcasting Corp., as well Democratic Voice of Burma, Radio Free Asia and YouTube.

_Sept. 30, 2011: Thein Sein announces suspension of Myitsone dam project. The decision is explained as a response to public opinion, but it also signals that Myanmar is seeking to loosen ties with China, its main political ally and top investor.

_Oct. 11, 2011: Myanmar grants amnesty to an additional 6,359 convicts, with several prominent figures among the more than 200 political prisoners freed. However, more than 1,000 political detainees remain behind bars, including top dissidents who helped lead mass protests in 1988 and 2007.

_Oct. 11, 2001: Thein Sein signs a law legalizing labor unions and the right to strike, but with qualifications.

_Nov. 22, 2011: Thein Sein signs a law allowing peaceful demonstrations for the first time, though with strictly defined conditions.

_Nov. 25, 2011: Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy reregisters as a political party in order to contest by-elections planed for early 2012.

_Nov. 30, 2011: Hillary Rodham Clinton arrives on the first visit by a U.S. secretary of state in 50 years, as U.S. policy shifts from isolation to engagement.

_Jan. 4, 2012: Another amnesty frees 6,656 convicts around Myanmar, but only three dozen political prisoners are included, leaving many activists disappointed.

_Jan. 12, 2012: The government signs a preliminary cease-fire pact with the Karen National Union, the country’s most durable ethnic rebel group. It holds talks with other groups, but remains in a bitter armed struggle with the Kachin minority in northern Myanmar.

_Jan. 13, 2012: The government releases more than 600 political detainees, about half of them pro-democracy activists, including the country’s best known dissidents.

_Jan. 18, 2012: Suu Kyi registers to run for parliament from Kawmhu, a poor constituency just south of Yangon.

_March 14, 2012: Suu Kyi delivers her party’s policy statement on state radio and television in the time alloted to all parties contesting the by-elections.

_April 1, 2012: Myanmar holds by-elections in 45 constituencies around the country, for seats vacated since the 2010 elections.

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