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Myanmar junta chief faces exclusion from ASEAN summit

Southeast Asian bloc countries appear frustrated by the military government's lack of commitment

UCA News reporter

UCA News reporter

Published: October 07, 2021 10:39 AM GMT

Updated: October 07, 2021 10:47 AM GMT

Myanmar junta chief faces exclusion from ASEAN summit

Members of the British Myanmar community and their supporters demonstrate in Parliament Square against the military government in London on Sept. 11. (Photo: AFP)

Southeast Asian nations are disappointed due to a lack of progress on the agreed roadmap to restore peace in Myanmar and recently discussed not inviting junta leader Min Aung Hlaing to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) summit later this month.

Malaysia’s Foreign Minister Saifuddin Abdullah warned that Myanmar’s military leader could be excluded from the summit on Oct. 26-28 if it refused to cooperate with ASEAN’s special envoy in resolving the crisis.

He posted on Twitter that “unless there is progress, it would be difficult to have the chairman of the SAC [the military junta] at the ASEAN Summit.”

Malaysia may talk with Myanmar’s shadow government if the military junta fails to abide by ASEAN’s five-point consensus, Saifuddin told the parliament on Oct. 6.

A special summit in Jakarta in April attended by the junta leader had reached a five-point consensus which included ending violence, constructive talks among all parties concerned and sending aid to Myanmar.

In August, Brunei’s Second Foreign Minister Erywan Yusof was selected as the special envoy of the 10-member Southeast Asian bloc countries to Myanmar to help solve the political crisis triggered by the military’s seizure of power on Feb. 1.

The ASEAN bloc’s engagement with Myanmar’s military has also been criticized by pro-democracy protesters inside and outside Myanmar

The special envoy is yet to visit the country and may not be allowed to meet with Myanmar’s deposed leader Aung San Suu Kyi, who is under house arrest and facing a raft of charges. The military junta’s spokesman said last week that they would not grant Erywan permission to meet with the detained leader.

Critics said the consensus lacked a time frame and follow-up plan as Min Aung Hlaing himself, now named prime minister of the caretaker government, said they will consider it only when stability returns.

The ASEAN bloc’s engagement with Myanmar’s military has also been criticized by pro-democracy protesters inside and outside Myanmar as it has failed to meet with the National Unity Government (NUG), which was a legitimate one elected by the people’s vote in 2020 elections.

The United Nations and countries including the US and China have urged ASEAN to move forward with diplomatic efforts to return Myanmar to stability.

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Myanmar historian Thant Myint-U said in a tweet: “What to do about a country like Myanmar?  Eight months on, ASEAN governments still have no real idea (to be fair, neither does any other government). Debating envoy visit and CinC [junta leader] summit participation far from a real policy towards a failing state and a humanitarian catastrophe.”

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