In February 1960, in fulfillment of a commitment that had been made by gen. As soon as Win had assumed full powers, elections were called. These marked the landslide victory of U Nu and his “clean” faction of the Anti-Fascist League of People’s Freedom (AFPFL), also for the support received from the peasant classes, national minorities and Buddhist clergy. The clandestine Communist Party, whose militants had concentrated their votes on U Nu, considered a valid opponent of the military, left the political scene; and the “stable” faction of the AFPFL of U Bu Swa, with a pro-Western tendency and deaf to the agrarian problems of a very backward country. The internal situation, even after the return to a democratic government, remained precarious for the inability of this to guarantee a minimum of economic development. On March 2, 1962, the army regained power, arresting the prime minister, dissolving the parliament and the elective assemblies of the individual states.
A revolutionary council led by Ne Win was established and a socio-political program presented as the “Burmese way to socialism” was made known, the qualifying points of which were the nationalization of all lands, all sources of raw materials, all tertiary activities in the hands of foreigners. Foreign policy would have been characterized by active neutralism and a close friendship with China, with which in January Ne Win had signed a ten-year treaty that resolved border disputes, transferring some territories inhabited by the Kachin to China and assigning Myanmar la Meng-Mao area.
In November 1963, having failed the pacification campaign against the guerrilla groups and the Kachin, Karen and Shan tribes, which by controlling a large part of the territories on the border between China, Laos and Thailand asked for autonomy within a structure federal, the Revolutionary Council put an end to the opening up to left forces and ordered massive arrests of Communist leaders and sympathizers.
In the economic and social field, the situation had slightly improved, also following the efforts of the military government to establish a regime of austerity and autarchy, in order to reduce the gap between the living conditions of the capital’s elites and the backward masses of the countryside; in this context the country’s exit from the British currency system was inserted.
In 1967, following anti-Chinese demonstrations in Rangoon, relations with China deteriorated and Beijing turned to openly support the Communist guerrillas. This deterioration led in early 1969 to armed clashes on the borders between the military of the two countries.
Former Prime Minister U Nu, having left the Thai exile, had returned to Myanmar e,. after having made an agreement with the tribes of the Mon and the Karen, he had assumed the command of the “United National Liberation Front”, aimed at restoring parliamentary democracy. The economic situation, through nationalizations and four-year plans aimed above all at developing agriculture, presented an appreciable improvement, even if the annual per capita income remained extremely low. Ne Win’s meeting in 1971 with Mao Tse-tung ended the period of tense relations between the two countries and strengthened the internal situation of the Burmese regime.
On January 4, 1974 the new constitution came into force, defining the country as a Socialist Republic and providing for the election of a unicameral parliament on lists of a single party. On the occasion of the twelfth anniversary of the coup, gen. Ne Win was elected president of the Republic.