History of Myanmar

Post-Independent Burma
U Nu ©Image Attribution forthcoming. Image belongs to the respective owner(s).
1948 Jan 1 - 1962

Post-Independent Burma

Myanmar (Burma)

The early years of Burmese independence were fraught with internal conflict, featuring insurgencies from various groups including the Red Flag and White Flag Communists, the Revolutionary Burma Army, and ethnic groups like the Karen National Union.[77] China's Communist victory in 1949 also led to the Kuomintang establishing a military presence in Northern Burma.[77] In foreign policy, Burma was notably impartial and initially accepted international aid for rebuilding. However, ongoing American support for Chinese Nationalist forces in Burma led the country to reject most foreign aid, refuse membership in the South-East Asia Treaty Organization (SEATO), and to instead support the Bandung Conference of 1955.[77]


By 1958, despite economic recovery, political instability was on the rise due to divisions within the Anti-Fascist People's Freedom League (AFPFL) and an unstable parliamentary situation. Prime Minister U Nu barely survived a no-confidence vote and, seeing the rising influence of 'crypto-communists' in opposition,[77] eventually invited Army Chief of Staff General Ne Win to assume power.[77] This led to the arrest and deportation of hundreds of suspected communist sympathizers, including key opposition figures, and the shutdown of prominent newspapers.[77]


The military regime under Ne Win successfully stabilized the situation enough to hold new general elections in 1960, which returned U Nu's Union Party to power.[77 ] However, stability was short-lived. A movement within the Shan State aspired for a 'loose' federation and insisted on the government honoring a right to secession, which had been provided for in the 1947 Constitution. This movement was perceived as separatist, and Ne Win acted to dismantle the feudal powers of the Shan leaders, replacing them with pensions, thus further centralizing his control over the country.

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