It is a hugely important day for Myanmar and Aung San Suu Kyi

Just a few weeks after Nepal elected its first female president, Myanmar, too, has put a woman in power — though not in an official leadership position quite yet.

After 25 years of military rule, which began when the country’s Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) refused to step down in 1990, voters in Myanmar will finally enjoy the benefits of a true democracy. In an inspiring show of support, the country’s citizens have swept members of the National League for Democracy (NLD) party to power and its founder Aung San Suu Kyi along with them.

Suu Kyi is an extremely important figure, on par with Nelson Mandela, in the grand scheme of Myanmar politics. Shortly before the NLD was denied its electoral win in 1990, she was placed under house arrest — received a Nobel Peace Prize — and remained in confinement until November 2010. Upon gaining her freedom, Suu Kyi made it a point to meet with other political leaders, including Hillary Clinton and former British Secretary of State William Hague.

Five years later, the NLD’s long-awaited victory is proving bittersweet. First and foremost, Suu Kyi will not be allowed to become president of the country due to a stipulation in the country’s constitution that specifically bars her from holding the office (though she insists that she’ll be the power behind the new president no matter what.) Then to add injury to insult, the USDP has created a series of laws that grants the military permission to take over the government under certain circumstances and sets aside one-quarter of the seats in parliament for unelected military officials. In other words, the NLD may have won, but its members remain under the watchful eye of the military.

Still, even the military government has admitted defeat.

“We lost,” USDP acting chairman Htay Oo told Reuters. And he pretty much left it that.

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