ASEAN plans to remove Myanmar’s army chief from the summit

ASEAN plans to remove Myanmar's army chief from the summit

A bird flies near the Secretariat building of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) ahead of the ASEAN leaders meeting in Jakarta, Indonesia, April 23, 2021. REUTERS/Willy Kurniawan

(Reuters) – Southeast Asian foreign ministers will discuss at a meeting on Friday whether Myanmar’s military commander Min Aung Hlaing will be banned from an upcoming regional summit, informed sources said.

Several members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) have strongly criticized Myanmar’s military government’s inaction on a five-point plan it agreed with the bloc in April aimed at dialogue among all parties, humanitarian access and an end to hostilities. .

Sources in ASEAN member countries, including a diplomat and another government official, said the previously unscheduled virtual meeting will be hosted by the current ASEAN chief Brunei on Friday.

Myanmar military spokesman Zaw Min Tun did not respond to calls for comment on the meeting. Brunei’s foreign ministry did not respond to an emailed request for comment.

Eriwan Yusuf, the bloc’s special envoy to Myanmar, confirmed last week that some members were in “deep discussion” about not inviting the coup leader to the virtual summit to be held on October 26-28.

He said that the military council’s lack of commitment to the five-point process “amounts to withdrawal”. Eriwan’s office declined to comment on Friday’s meeting.

Myanmar, with a long history of military dictatorship and international accusations of systematic human rights violations, has been one of the toughest problems facing ASEAN since the group’s founding in 1967, testing the limits of its unity and its policy of non-interference.

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Erewan said this week that he is consulting with parties in Myanmar, not taking sides or taking political positions, and is looking forward to a visit.

In a statement issued late Thursday, the State Department said the envoy proposed a visit this week but requested to meet with “certain persons,” a request the military rejected.

Zhao Min Tin, a spokesman for the junta, said earlier that the envoy would not be allowed to meet ousted civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi because she is accused of crimes. Read more

According to the statement from the foreign ministry, Myanmar was willing to allow the envoy to meet with people “from legally established political parties” and should have accepted the revised timetable “in order to build confidence between the special envoy and the country concerned”.

The United Nations, the United States and China, among others, have supported ASEAN’s efforts to find a diplomatic solution. But pressure on ASEAN has increased in recent months, with some critics calling for tougher measures to respond to the uprising in Myanmar.

More than 1,100 people have died since the February 1 coup, the United Nations said, many of them in a crackdown by security forces against strikes and protests linked to Suu Kyi’s ousted government.

Additional coverage by Rosana Latif in Kuala Lumpur and Tom Allard in Jakarta; Additional coverage by Ayn Bendial in Bandar Seri Begawan. Written by Martin Petty; Editing by William Mallard and Mark Heinrich

Our Standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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