Last week, a quarter of a century after winning a landslide in Burma’s last openly contested elections, Aung San Suu Kyi and her party, the National League for Democracy (NLD), won another overwhelming electoral victory. Despite 25 years of repression, including many years under house arrest, she and her party have proven once and for all that they were not going away. The people of Burma, even more importantly, proved once again that they want an end to military rule, and the establishment of genuine democracy.

The momentous results for the NLD are clearly a cause for celebration for anyone who believes in democracy. So far, the response of the ruling party, and the military, has been surprisingly reassuring, promising to respect the results and transition power to an NLD government. But as Aung San Suu Kyi herself has said, this does not mean that the goal of democracy has been achieved - it is just the very beginning.

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"The momentous results for the NLD are clearly a cause for celebration for anyone who believes in democracy. So far, the response of the ruling party, and the military, has been surprisingly reassuring, promising to respect the results and transition power to an NLD government. But as Aung San Suu Kyi herself has said, this does not mean that the goal of democracy has been achieved - it is just the very beginning."

Many challenges await an NLD government. First and foremost, the military has already made sure that they will continue to hold power. Under the 2008 constitution, a quarter of the parliamentary seats are reserved for the military. The commander-in-chief has the right to appoint the ministers of defence, home affairs and border affairs, meaning that three ministers in an NLD government will answer to the army, and not to the elected representatives of the people.

The constitution also prohibits Aung San Suu Kyi herself from becoming president, because it bans anyone who has been married to a foreigner or has dependents who are foreign citizens. Although her British husband, Michael Aris, died in 1999, her sons retain British passports. Winning such an overwhelming majority in Parliament, the NLD will be able to choose the president - but ironically, it can’t be their party’s leader.

The NLD will therefore need to find some form of accommodation and co-operation with the military - or risk a confrontation that could derail the government. Under the constitution, the military reserves the right to seize power in a coup in the event of a national emergency. It would not take much for them to foment conflict in the country that might give them the pretext for toppling an NLD government, should they wish.

Two other major challenges will be top of the new government’s in-box: resolving decades of ethnic conflict, and addressing rising religious intolerance.

Ethnic nationalities have good reason to be hopeful that the new government will be better placed to secure peace than the military-backed regime, but only if it is allowed. True peace can only achieved through a political dialogue leading to a political settlement - which means, for the ethnic nationalities, a federal system guaranteeing them a degree of autonomy. Aung San Suu Kyi has long supported federalism as the solution. The key question, though, is whether the military will allow her to deliver that?

In the past three years, a religious nationalist movement has grown in influence, unleashing sporadic violent attacks on Muslims, stirring up anti-Muslim sentiment, preaching hatred and introducing legislation that restricts interfaith marriage and religious conversions. The powerful Ma Ba Tha movement of Buddhist nationalist monks has already threatened to make life difficult for the NLD, should it attempt to repeal the four laws, known as the ‘Protection of Race and Religion Laws’, which Parliament passed earlier this year.

Aung San Suu Kyi has been criticised for not speaking out strongly or clearly enough against religious intolerance, but her remarks in a BBC interview with Fergal Keane should allay any concerns about where her sympathies lie. She said that people in Burma “do not want to live on a diet of hate and fear”, that those preaching hatred would be prosecuted, and that an NLD government would protect the rights of all people. This is reassuring, but no one should underestimate how difficult this will be in practice. “Prejudice is not removed easily and hatred is not going to be removed easily,” she said.

And once again, the military has the power to make life difficult. If the military, or elements within, choose to fuel further religious hatred through Ma Ba Tha - as it is widely believed they have been - the NLD government will not find it easy to combat, especially with the military controlling key security ministries.

So what does this mean for the prospects for peace in Burma, and for the most vulnerable and marginalised minorities, notably the predominantly Christian Kachin who continue to face war, and the Muslim Rohingyas who face, in the assessment of many international experts, crimes against humanity? It means that Burma will finally have a government that is likely to be much more sympathetic to their plight, that will have a greater inclination to find a humane solution to Burma’s conflicts, and that will, by instinct, wish to protect human rights. But it will not be a government that will be able to wave a magic wand overnight, and it will be a government severely hamstrung. A step forwards, definitely, but not the end of the road. Burma will continue to need monitoring, and assistance, for some time to come.

Benedict Rogers is the East Asia team leader at Christian Solidarity Worldwide, based in London. The new, revised and updated edition of his book, Burma: A Nation at the Crossroads, was published by Random House in November 2015.