ASEAN keeps veto on Myanmar military junta representatives

Bangkok, Feb 3 (EFE).- Cambodia announced Thursday it would not invite representatives of the Myanmar military junta to the next meeting of foreign ministers of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

Chum Sounry, Cambodian Foreign Ministry spokesman, whose country holds the annual rotating presidency of ASEAN, said the measure has been taken amid little progress in actions aimed at peacefully settling the crisis unleashed in Myanmar as a result of last year’s military coup.

In October last year, during the summit of ASEAN leaders, organized by Brunei, the leader of the military junta and self-proclaimed Myanmar Prime Minister Gen. Min Aung Hlaing was already excluded in an unprecedented measure in the bloc’s history.

For the meeting of foreign ministers, held Feb. 16 and Feb. 17 in Phnom Penh, a non-political representative will be invited to be appointed by the Myanmar junta, instead of Wunna Maung Lwin, the military-appointed foreign minister, the spokesman told local media.

Myanmar remains mired in a deep political, social and economic crisis as a result of the Feb. 1, 2021 military coup, which has exacerbated the armed conflict with ethnic guerrillas and the creation of new civilian militias.

ASEAN said in a Wednesday statement it had “deep concern” about the situation in Myanmar, one of the bloc’s 10 partners, where “violence and the deterioration of the humanitarian situation continue.”

The countries of Southeast Asia urge compliance with the five points of consensus reached last April by the bloc’s political leaders and the coup general, including “the immediate cessation of violence” and a “constructive dialogue” in which all parties involved participate.

Despite the deal, the Myanmar junta has since made “insufficient” steps toward implementing the deal.

The bloc hopes ASEAN’s special envoy for Myanmar, Cambodian Foreign Minister Prak Sokhonn, can travel “as soon as possible” to “meet all parties involved” including the opposition led by deposed State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi, detained by the military.

The army justifies the coup on alleged fraud during the November 2020 general elections, whose results were voided and in which Suu Kyi’s party won a landslide victory, as it did in 2015, with the endorsement of international observers.

At least 1,510 people have died since the military uprising as a result of the brutal repression of the authorities, who have arrested more than 11,930 people, according to data collected today by the Association for the Assistance of Political Prisoners in Myanmar. EFE


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