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Myanmar rejects Hun Sen’s request for talks with Suu Kyi

The junta accuses former Thai PM of ‘encouraging terrorists,’ says it is focusing on promised elections
Myanmar junta military soldiers parade during a ceremony to mark the country's Armed Forces Day in Naypyidaw on March 27.

In this file photo taken on Jan. 17, 2020, Myanmar's State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi poses for pictures during a welcoming ceremony for China's President Xi Jinping at the Presidential Palace in Naypyidaw. (Photo: AFP)

Published: May 09, 2024 10:15 AM GMT
Updated: May 09, 2024 12:16 PM GMT

Myanmar’s junta has rejected a request by former Cambodian prime minister Hun Sen for talks with Aung San Suu Kyi who has been detained since she was ousted by a coup in early 2021 which plunged the Southeast Asian nation into civil war.

Military spokesman Zaw Min Tun said in an audio message that there was “no reason to facilitate it [talks] at this moment” while the junta was focusing on promised elections.

“We are going to avoid matters which can delay or disturb future processes,” the message said, according to a dispatch from AFP.

The military justified its coup by claiming elections held in November 2020 were rigged and that its ousting of Suu Kyi would herald a fresh vote, which has so far failed to materialize.

Hun Sen requested the talks with Su Kyi during a video conference with Myanmar’s embattled junta chief, General Min Aung Hlaing, on May 7 which was held following discussions with the military’s diplomatic envoy in Phnom Penh.

Tun also lashed out at former Thai prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra – a close friend and former economic advisor to Hun Sen – after he reportedly held talks with some ethnic armed organizations (EAOs) who are battling the junta.

“We assume that encouraging terrorist groups which destroy Myanmar interests is not appropriate,” Tun said.

Hun Sen ruled Cambodia for almost 40 years before transferring power to his eldest son last August.

His request for talks with Suu Kyi followed a call by Thailand that a troika be established within the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) to negotiate with the warring parties.

The troika would consist of Indonesia which held ASEAN’s rotating chair last year, the current chair Laos, and Malaysia which will take over in 2025.

The ASEAN and its five-point peace plan for Myanmar have been sharply criticized for their inability to negotiate with all sides in the conflict. However, a renewed push for negotiations has emerged after six months of battlefield gains by the EAOs and the People’s Defence Force (PDF), the armed wing of the shadow National Unity Government.

The PDF with Suu Kyi as head and the EAOs are in control of nearly all of Myanmar’s borders, although speculation is mounting that the junta is planning a counteroffensive aimed at winning back its lost territories.

About 3 million people have been displaced by the three-year-old conflict, according to the latest numbers from the United Nations, and around half have been forced to flee since November when the EAOs based in northern Shan state launched their dry season offensive.

"Myanmar stands at the precipice in 2024 with a deepening humanitarian crisis," the office of the UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator for Myanmar said in a statement on May 6, adding an estimated one-third of the displaced were children.

About half of all internally displaced people are in the northwestern regions of Chin, Magway and Sagaing, more than 900,000 are in the southeast and a further 356,000 people have fled their homes in the western state of Rakhine, the UN office said.

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1 Comments on this Story
IAN
Your blurb says "The junta accuses former Thai PM of ‘encouraging terrorists,’ says it is focusing on promised elections" -- but Hun Sen was Cambodia's, not Thailand's PM.
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