ASEAN excludes Myanmar junta leader from summit - GulfToday

ASEAN excludes Myanmar junta leader from summit


Flags are seen outside the ASEAN secretariat building, ahead of the ASEAN leaders’ meeting in Jakarta, Indonesia. File/Reuters

Gulf Today Report

A Southeast Asia summit this month will invite a non-political representative from Myanmar, a rare rebuke as concerns rise over the military government's commitment to defusing a bloody crisis.

In a statement, ASEAN's current chair Brunei said a non-political figure from Myanmar would be invited to the Oct. 26-28 summit, after no consensus was reached for a political representative to attend.


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The bloc, widely considered a toothless organisation, took a strong stand after the junta rebuffed requests for a special envoy to meet with all parties concerned -- a phrase seen to include ousted civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

Myanmar’s junta chief Senior General Min Aung Hlaing presides an army parade in Naypyitaw, Myanmar. File/Reuters

The decision by foreign ministers from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), at an emergency meeting on Friday night, marks a shift for the bloc, which has traditionally favoured a policy of engagement and non-interference.

The meeting was called to address the failure of Myanmar's junta, which seized power in February, to adhere to a peace roadmap it had agreed to with ASEAN in April, aimed at tackling the fallout from the coup led by Min Aung Hlaing.

Mustafa Izzuddin, a global affairs analyst at consultancy Solaris Strategies Singapore, called the exclusion "a political stopgap measure for ASEAN to assuage international criticism".

Aung San Suu Kyi delivers her address during a meeting in Yangon. File/AFP

"Second, it ensures its regional reputation as an organisation that can still play an active role in Southeast Asian affairs," he told the media.

Foreign ministers in Friday's meeting emphasised the importance of giving ASEAN's envoy to Myanmar, Erywan Yusof, access to all parties concerned, Brunei said.

A long-planned visit by the envoy to Myanmar has been delayed in recent weeks, with Erywan insisting on meeting all parties, including deposed leader Aung San Suu Kyi, who has been detained on various charges since the coup.

Junta spokesman Zaw Min Tun said this week Erywan would be welcome in the country but would not be allowed to meet Suu Kyi because she is charged with crimes.



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