Conflicts & War

Brunei confirms Myanmar military junta’s ASEAN summit exclusion

Bangkok, Oct 16 (EFE).- Brunei, which is holding the chairmanship of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) this year, said in a statement on Saturday that it will invite a “non-political representative from Myanmar” to the bloc’s summit in October, thereby excluding the military junta that seized power in February.

The decision was adopted on Friday during an emergency meeting of the foreign ministers of the bloc’s ten member states, including the Myanmar military-appointed foreign minister, after they failed to reach a consensus on who should represent the country at the annual meeting, scheduled to be held between Oct. 26 and 28.

Both the military junta, which ended a decade of incipient democracy in Myanmar with a coup on Feb. 1, and the self-proclaimed National Unity Government (NUG), formed in April by pro-democracy politicians and activists, had requested to attend the annual summit, the statement said.

Despite “extensive discussions,” the representatives of the Southeast Asian bloc failed to reach a consensus on a political representative from Myanmar, a key principle of ASEAN for the adoption of measures.

“While reaffirming the principle of non-interference in internal affairs of another member state, and to allow Myanmar the space to restore its internal affairs and return to normalcy, the meeting accepted the decision to invite a non-political representative from Myanmar to the upcoming summits,” the statement said.

Also discussed during Friday’s meeting was the progress made on the five-point consensus, reached in April between the ASEAN leaders and the leader of the military junta, General Min Aung Hlaing, to seek a solution to the political and social crisis triggered by the coup.

The five points include an end to violence against civilians, a dialog between all parties to reach a peaceful solution, and the appointment of an ASEAN mediator and his visit to Myanmar.

On Friday, Myanmar’s Foreign Minister Wunna Maung Lwin defended the junta’s decision not to allow ASEAN’s special envoy for Myanmar, Bruneian Minister Erywan Yusof, to meet the country’s ousted leader and Nobel Peace Prize laureate, Aung San Suu Kyi, due to the legal proceedings against her.

Earlier in the week, Yusof suspended his first trip to the Asian country due to the authorities’ refusal to allow him to meet Suu Kyi.

The bloc’s foreign ministers described the progress in the implementation of the five-point consensus as “insufficient” while noting the “importance of a visit of the special envoy to Myanmar” and emphasizing the importance of “access to all parties concerned.”

On the other hand, the foreign ministers appreciated the Myanmar military junta’s “continued readiness” to work closely with the special envoy while calling for greater “flexibility” to build “trust and confidence” between all parties.

The Myanmar junta justifies the coup, citing alleged electoral fraud in the now annulled election results in which Suu Kyi’s party won a landslide victory.

International observers have cleared the polls as free and fair.

At least 1,178 people have died in violent repression by police and soldiers since the coup, data from the Association for the Assistance of Political Prisoners showed.

The military has also detained more than 7,340 protesters since Feb.1. EFE


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