Conflicts & War

Myanmar junta rejects Asean request for envoy’s meeting with Suu Kyi

Bangkok, Feb 21 (EFE).- Myanmar military rulers have refused a new Asean request to allow its special envoy to meet with ousted civilian leaders, including Aung San Suu Kyi, the state media reported Monday.

In a statement issued on Sunday, the military-run Myanmar foreign ministry said two members of the 10-nation bloc have suggested the special envoy, Cambodia’s top diplomat Prak Sokhonn “engage with unlawful associations and terrorist groups.”

The statement said the government, in May last year, declared a Myanmar legislative body in exile, the unity government, and “all their subordinates as terrorist groups…for perpetrating violence and pursuing a total destructive path that is conducive to terrorism in the country.”

It said the suggestion by the two unnamed members that the Asean special envoy engaged with such groups was not only “contrary to the principles of the bloc charter, but also undermines its counter-terrorism efforts.”

“The ministry again urges the two members not to use Asean platforms to make such comments and encourages them to condemn the terrorist acts,” said the statement published by the state media New Global Light of Myanmar.

The junta’s response came after last week’s meeting in Phnom Penh of Asean foreign ministers.

The foreign minister appointed by the Myanmar military was not invited to the meeting that concluded without any progress in resolving the crisis in Myanmar following the military coup on Feb.1, 2021.

Sokhonn, appointed to mediate the conflict, announced his intention to travel to Myanmar in mid-March without any conditions.

However, Malaysian Foreign Minister Saifuddin Abdullah urged him to also meet with the self-proclaimed National Unity Government (NUG), loyal to Suu Kyi.

Singapore’s Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan said a solution was impossible without talking to Suu Kyi, sentenced to six years in prison and on trial for dozens of charges.

Sokhonn intends to talk with the military to implement the five-point consensus reached in April last year between the Asean leaders and the military junta led by General Min Aung Hlaing.

Cambodia currently holds the yearlong rotating presidency of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.

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.

But little progress has been made after the signing of the consensus pact that the military junta later described as “recommendations” and made subject to the security situation in the country,

Asean cites the “insufficient” progress made in its implementation as its argument to block the participation of the representatives of the military junta, including Min Aung Hlaing.

The coup has plunged Myanmar into a deep political, economic and social crisis in which 1,560 people have died in military repression, local activists say. EFE


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