Myanmar junta chief not invited to ASEAN summit

Published October 17, 2021
Myanmar's junta chief Senior General Min Aung Hlaing, who ousted the elected government in a coup on February 1, presides an army parade on Armed Forces Day in Naypyitaw, Myanmar, March 27. — Reuters
Myanmar's junta chief Senior General Min Aung Hlaing, who ousted the elected government in a coup on February 1, presides an army parade on Armed Forces Day in Naypyitaw, Myanmar, March 27. — Reuters

BANDAR BEGAWAN: Myanmar’s junta chief will be excluded from an upcoming ASEAN summit, the group said on Saturday, a rare rebuke as concerns rise over the military government’s commitment to defusing a bloody crisis.

Foreign ministers from the Associ­a­tion of Southeast Asian Nations agreed at an emergency meeting late on Fri­day that a “non-political representative” for Myanmar would be invited to the October 26-28 summit, current ASEAN chair Brunei said in a statement.

The decision effectively excluded junta leader Min Aung Hlaing.

The Myanmar junta slammed the decision on Saturday evening, accusing ASEAN of breaching its policy of non-interference in the domestic affairs of member states.

“Myanmar is extremely disappointed and strongly objected (to) the outcomes of the emergency foreign ministers meeting, as the discussions and decision on Myanmar’s representation issue was done without consensus and was against the objectives of ASEAN,” the Myanmar Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

Earlier, junta spokesman Brigadier General Zaw Min Tun told the BBC Burmese section that “interference” from non-ASEAN countries had also been a factor.

He seized on talks between the US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken and ASEAN special envoy, Brunei’s Second Foreign Minister Erywan Yusof, ahead of the meeting and also singled out EU pressure.

The bloc took a strong stand after the junta rebuffed requests that a special envoy meet “all stakeholders” in Myanmar — a phrase seen to include ousted civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi. The statement noted “insufficient progress” in the implementation of a five-point plan agreed by ASEAN leaders in April to end turmoil following a coup in February.

Published in Dawn, October 17th, 2021

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