Zaw Thein

Date of Award


Degree Name

Master of Arts


Political Science

First Advisor

Dr. Jim Butterfield

Second Advisor

Dr. Emily Hauptmann

Third Advisor

Dr. Mahendra Lawoti


Burma, democratization, politics, 1958-1960, military

Access Setting

Masters Thesis-Open Access


Many scholars believe that the period between 1948 when Burma won Independence and 1962 when the military took over the country from the elected civilian government as the parliamentary democracy era. During this era, there was a three-year interlude where the military leaders ruled the country as the Caretaker Government- a euphemism for the three-year military interlude. My argument is that this interlude happened due to the growing strength of the military as an institution and the decline of political parties in Burma. The strength of the military institution was due to the civil war that broke out just after the Independence as well as the invasion of the Kuomintang in the early 1950s and due to the cunning manipulation of Ne Win commanding-in-chief who aspired to the country’s strongman. Nu, Prime Minister and the leader of AFPFL (Anti-Fascist People’s Freedom League) party, failed to predict this military takeover, was also responsible for the decline of political parties and so were the other political leaders who squabbled over the trivial matters instead of focusing on policies and politics. The ruling AFPFL party split into two, Nu-Tin and Swe-Nyein parties in 1958 which destabilized the country. I also argued that since the abolition of monarchy in Burma in the 19th century, the country lacked strong institutions and the Burmese politics was mostly based on personalities of the leaders like Aung San, Nu and Ne Win. The interim Caretaker Government was the outcome of the clash of military with the fragmented and feeble political parties. Being dissatisfied with the military government and its heavy-handed policies, the Burmese voted landslide for the Nu-Tin party in the 1960’s election against the Swe-Nyein party supported by the military.