ASEAN mediator for Myanmar to meet with deposed NLD members

Bangkok, Mar 20 (EFE).- The ASEAN Special Envoy for Myanmar, Cambodian Foreign Minister Prak Sokhonn, during his upcoming visit to the country is set to meet with members of the National League for Democracy (NLD) party, which was overthrown in the military coup in February 2021, the junta authorities told EFE Sunday.

“He will meet with (representatives of) political parties, including the NLD,” the military junta spokesperson Zaw Min Tun told EFE, without specifying the names of the politicians.

The junta has so far vetoed any possibility for the ASEAN envoy to meet with NLD leader Aung San Suu Kyi, who served as the state counselor and the country de facto head until the coup on Feb.1 and who has been under arrest since then.

Since the coup, Suu Kyi – whose party won a landslide in the November 2020 elections before the military seized power – has been sentenced to six years in prison and still faces some dozen judicial proceedings.

Sokhonn, who assumed the position of mediator in January, was scheduled to arrive in Myanmar on Sunday and will be in Myanmar until Wednesday.

The visit, the first by someone holding this ASEAN portfolio, aims to create a favorable condition that will lead to the end of the violence, according to a recent statement by the Cambodian government.

Sokhonn, unlike his predecessor Erywan Yusof of Brunei, did not set conditions or demands on Myanmar’s military junta for the trip, a decision criticized by the ASEAN Parliamentarians for Human Rights (APHR).

According to Phnom Penh, the agenda of visit will revolve around the five points of consensus agreed to between the ASEAN leaders and the junta, including the immediate cessation of violence against civilians and a constructive dialogue involving all parties in the conflict.

ASEAN considers that the Myanmar junta’s steps taken towards the implementation of the agreement as insufficient.

Myanmar has been facing a deep social, political and humanitarian crisis since the military coup on Feb.1, 2021, which brought an end to democratic rule and imposed a regime of violent repression on dissent.

The army justifies the coup on ground of alleged fraud during the November 2020 general elections, the result of which has been annulled and in which Suu Kyi’s party won a landslide in the presence of international observers.

Apart from Suu Kyi, the junta authorities have arrested 832 members of the NLD – of whom 16 died during detention and 645 still remain behind bars – since the coup, according to the political party last week.

The United Nations, in a recent report, has accused the Myanmar army of killing, arresting and torturing the civilian population.

According to the nonprofit Assistance Association for Political Prisoners in Myanmar, at least 1,687 people who have died as a result of brutal repression by the authorities in the country. EFE

ASEAN was founded in 1967 and its current members are Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam and Burma. EFE


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