Myanmar's general election on Sunday, hailed as the first free vote in twenty-five years, could mark a new milestone in the country's arrival on the international stage.
Under the leadership of international icon Aung San Suu Kyi, the opposition party National League for Democracy (NLD) is widely expected to win—an event likely to dramatically alter the country's political landscape following six decades of economic and political isolation under a military dictatorship that ended in 2011.
Suu Kyi's promise to bring democracy to the former British colony comes amid an unprecedented influx of foreign funds thanks to the nation's new open-for-business image. In 2011, reforms were introduced following the dissolution of the ruling military junta and the establishment of a civilian parliament, led by former general President Thein Sein of the ruling Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP).
Despite landmark changes, such as the removal of Western sanctions, dissatisfaction with the USDP remains high amid restricted civil liberties. Moreover, the military still retains a strong presence in government, with the constitution requiring generals to hold a certain quota of ministerial posts and parliamentary chamber seats. The NLD hopes to end military rule and accelerate political reforms that have taken a backseat to the economic policies prioritized by the ruling USDP.
As foreign direct investment grows and ethnic conflict intensifies in Myanmar, here's what you need to know ahead of the closely-watched vote.