ASEAN excludes Burmese junta leader from summit, rare


BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN, Oct. 16 (Reuters) – Southeast Asian countries will invite a non-partisan Myanmar representative to a regional summit this month, putting an unprecedented snub to the military leader who led a coup against a civilian government elected in February.

The move by the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) foreign ministers at an emergency meeting on Friday night was an unusually bold move for the consensus bloc, which traditionally favors a policy of engagement and non-interference.

Brunei, the current president of ASEAN, issued a statement citing the lack of progress on a roadmap the junta agreed with ASEAN in April to restore peace to Myanmar.

Singapore’s Foreign Ministry said on Saturday that the decision to exclude junta leader Min Aung Hlaing was “a difficult, but necessary, decision to maintain ASEAN’s credibility.”

A spokesman for Myanmar’s military government blamed “foreign intervention” for the decision.

Junta spokesman Zaw Min Tun told the BBC’s Burmese press service that the United States and European Union officials had pressured other ASEAN member states.

“Foreign interventions can also be seen here,” he said. “We have learned that some emissaries from some countries have met with US foreign affairs and have come under pressure from the EU.”

An official junta statement on Sunday morning said ASEAN’s move went against its long-standing central principle of consensus.

Myanmar is extremely disappointed and strongly opposed the outcome of the emergency meeting of foreign ministers, as the discussions and decision on the issue of Myanmar’s representation proceeded without consensus and were against the objectives. of ASEAN, the ASEAN Charter and its principles, ”he said.

More than 1,000 civilians have been killed by Burmese security forces and thousands more have been arrested, according to the United Nations, amid a crackdown on strikes and protests that derailed the country’s timid democracy and aroused international condemnation.

The junta says these estimates of the death toll are exaggerated.

ASEAN President Brunei said a non-political figure from Myanmar would be invited to the summit on October 26-28, after no consensus was reached for a political representative to attend.

Flags are seen outside the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Secretariat building, ahead of the ASEAN Leaders Meeting in Jakarta, Indonesia, April 23, 2021. REUTERS / Willy Kurniawan / File Photo

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“As there had been insufficient progress … as well as concerns about Myanmar’s engagement, in particular on establishing a constructive dialogue among all parties concerned, some ASEAN member states recommended that ASEAN is giving Myanmar space to restore internal affairs and return to normalcy, ”Brunei said in a statement.

He did not mention Min Aung Hlaing or the name of who would be invited in his place.

Brunei said some member states have received requests from Myanmar’s government of national unity, formed by junta opponents, to attend the summit.


ASEAN has faced increasing international pressure to take a tougher stance against Myanmar, having been criticized in the past for its ineffectiveness in dealing with leaders accused of rights violations, subversion of democracy and intimidation. political opponents.

A US State Department official told reporters on Friday that it was “perfectly appropriate and indeed very justified” for ASEAN to downgrade Myanmar’s participation in the upcoming summit.

In its statement, Singapore urged Myanmar to cooperate with ASEAN envoy, Brunei Second Foreign Minister Erywan Yusof.

Erywan delayed a long-planned visit to the country in recent weeks and demanded to meet with all parties in Myanmar, including ousted leader Aung San Suu Kyi, who was arrested during the coup.

Junta spokesman Zaw Min Tun said this week that Erywan would be welcome in Myanmar but would not be allowed to meet Suu Kyi as she is accused of crimes.

Malaysia’s foreign minister said it would be up to the Myanmar junta to decide on an alternate summit representative.

“We never thought of removing Myanmar from ASEAN, we believe Myanmar has the same rights (as we),” Foreign Minister Saifuddin Abdullah told reporters according to the national news agency Bernama. .

“But the junta did not cooperate, so ASEAN must be strong to defend its credibility and integrity,” he added.

Report by Ain Bandial; Additional reporting by Aradhana Aravindan in Singapore and Simon Lewis in Washington; Writing by Rozanna Latiff; Editing by William Mallard, Simon Cameron-Moore, Mike Harrison and Christina Fincher

Our Standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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