By AFP, published by Channel NewsAsia
Yangon – Myanmar’s junta said today (Oct. 16) it was “extremely disappointed” with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations’ (Asean) decision to exclude its leader Min Aung Hlaing from an upcoming summit, amid concerns by the regional bloc over his military government’s commitment to solving a deadly political stalemate.
“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.
Foreign ministers from Asean agreed at an emergency meeting late on Friday that a “non-political representative” for Myanmar would be invited to the Oct. 26 to Oct. 28 summit, current Asean chair Brunei 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 meets with “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.
It also said that the situation in Myanmar “was having an impact on regional security as well as the unity, credibility and centrality of Asean”.
Asean has been under international pressure to address unrest that erupted after the putsch, including massive protests; renewed clashes between the military and ethnic rebel armies in border regions; and an economy spiralling into freefall.
The bloc has expressed disappointment at a lack of cooperation from the junta, which continues to crack down brutally on dissent. Almost 1,200 civilians have been killed, according to a local monitoring group.
Part of the consensus was to allow a long-delayed visit by a special envoy, Brunei Second Foreign Minister Yusof.
Asean has insisted that he meets with all parties concerned, but the junta rejected any proposed meetings with people on trial, among them Aung San Suu Kyi, who is facing various charges.
Aung Myo Min, the human rights minister of a shadow government of ousted Myanmar lawmakers called the NUG, praised the exclusion as “a very strong action” and voiced hope Asean would recognise the NUG as Myanmar’s legitimate government.
Political activist Minn Khant Kyaw Linn, 23, who organised a protest in Mandalay where the Asean flag was burnt in June, said it was time for the bloc to allow NUG representatives to its meetings.
The junta – officially known as the State Administration Council – has promised to hold elections and lift a state of emergency by August 2023.
Top: Myanmar’s junta chief Min Aung Hlaing will be excluded from Asean’s Oct. 26 to Oct. 28 summit. File photo: Alexander Zemlianichenko/Pool/AFP and published by CNA
Home Page: Flags are seen outside the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) secretariat building, ahead of the Asean leaders’ meeting in Jakarta, Indonesia, Apr. 23, 2021. File photo: Reuters/Willy Kurniawan and published by CNA