UN chief demands Myanmar junta reinstate democratic rule

Jakarta, Sep 7 (EFE).- Myanmar’s military junta must reinstate democratic rule and release all political prisoners, United Nations Secretary General António Guterres demanded on Thursday at the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit in Jakarta.

“I reiterate my urgent call on the military authorities of Myanmar to listen to the aspirations of its people, release all political prisoners and open the doors to the return to democratic rule,” Guterres said at a press conference on the sidelines of the summit, which concludes later Thursday.

The UN chief said he was “deeply concerned” about the worsening political and humanitarian situation in Myanmar, including in Rakhine state, home to the country’s unrecognized Rohingya Muslim minority, upon which the army has launched violent crackdowns that are being investigated for constituting possible genocide.

Guterres also expressed his support for the initiatives of ASEAN, made up of Brunei, Cambodia, the Philippines, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam, regarding the crises in Naypyitaw, particularly regarding the Five-Point Consensus agreed two years ago with the junta, which included an end to violence and dialogue with all parties.

The UN fully supports the Five-Point Consensus, Guterres said.

The bloc decided on Tuesday, at the start of the summit, to go a step further in excluding the Myanmar junta from its high-level meetings and Philippines President Ferdinand Marcos. Jr., announced that Manila is ready to replace Naypyitaw to take the group’s rotating chairmanship in 2026, a year earlier than planned.

The group’s leaders also decided this week to launch a troika model with the current, previous and next ASEAN chairs to jointly manage the Myanmar crisis, instead of the usual current chair alone. This will mean that Indonesia, one of the countries with a more proactive approach towards the issue, will continue to be involved next year when the association is chaired by Laos, along with 2022 chair Cambodia.

The Feb. 1, 2021 coup plunged Myanmar into a serious political and social crises that has left much of the country in chaos, with violent clashes between junta forces and its opponents and an upsurge in repression against any form of dissent.

The takeover kneecapped a decade of democratic transition led by ousted leader Aung San Suu Kyi, who faces 27 years in jail, after a six-year reduction last month.

For the fourth time, the junta has extended its declared state of emergency, pushing out the possibility of elections. EFE


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