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The Union of Burma was a parliamentary republic that administered Myanmar from 4 January 1948 to 2 March 1962, with Rangoon serving as its capital. During World War II, U Saw failed to secure a British promise for independence after the war, but Britain promised to grant Burma dominion status after the war's end in 1945. In April 1947, Aung San's AFPFL organization won an overwhelming victory, but the people were far from unanimous in their support for Aung San's regime. Karen and communist rebels rose up against the government in 1948, and much of northern Burma was occupied by Kuomintang forces who were fighting against the Communist Party of China during the Chinese Civil War. By 1958, Burma was making an economic recovery, but a split in the AFPFL led to further instability. In 1962, U Nu invited Army Chief of Staff Ne Win to take over the country, and Ne Win's Burma Socialist Programme Party persecuted communists and created the Socialist Republic of the Union of Burma.

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