Southeast Asian leaders reprimand Burmese junta for missing summit | New
By Ain Bandial
BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN (Reuters) – Southeast Asian leaders sharply criticized Myanmar’s junta as a regional summit opened on Tuesday without a representative from the country, following the exclusion of its most high general for ignoring a roadmap to peace agreed six months ago.
The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) had said it would accept a non-political figure from Myanmar at the virtual meeting, but the junta rejected on Monday, saying it would only accept its leader or a minister attends.
In an unprecedented snub towards the head of a member state, ASEAN had decided to put aside https://reut.rs/3n0roOZ Junta leader Min Aung Hlaing, who led a February 1 coup that degenerated into violence and chaos nationwide, for his failure to end hostilities, allow humanitarian access and initiate dialogue, as agreed with ASEAN.
The move was a huge insult to the Myanmar military and a rare and bold step by a regional group known for its code of consensus, non-interference and engagement.
“Today, ASEAN has not expelled Myanmar from the ASEAN framework. Myanmar has given up its right,” said Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen, who will be chairman of the group next year.
“Now we are in the situation of ASEAN minus one. It is not because of ASEAN, but because of Myanmar.”
Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi said ASEAN has a niche for Myanmar, but has chosen not to join.
Indonesian President Joko Widodo, in his remarks to the leaders, lamented Myanmar’s “unwelcome attitude” towards ASEAN’s diplomatic efforts, Retno said.
“ASEAN’s decision to invite a representative from Myanmar at a non-political level was cumbersome, but it had to be done,” she said.
“It is important for us to honor the principles of non-interference. But on the other hand, we are obliged to respect other principles … such as democracy, good governance, respect for the rights of the man and constitutional government, âshe said. , quoting the president.
ASEAN President Brunei’s Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah said Myanmar should have space to return to normal in accordance with ASEAN’s principle of non-interference.
The region’s leaders called at the summit “for the situation in Myanmar to be mediated to maintain ASEAN’s credibility,” he said in a statement.
It was Brunei, supported by the majority, which decided to exclude the leader of the junta.
The Burmese army, which has ruled the country for 49 of the past 60 years, has strongly opposed https://reut.rs/2Zeppik, to ASEAN’s unusually strict response, accusing it of deviating from its standards and allowing itself to be swayed by other countries, including the United States.
Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha, a retired general considered the ASEAN leader closest to Myanmar’s coup plotters, urged the country to implement a five-point roadmap he agreed to with ASEAN.
He said the issue was crucial to the bloc’s reputation and a test of its resolve.
CREDIBILITY IN GAME
“The constructive role of ASEAN in dealing with this situation is of paramount importance and our action on this issue will affect the credibility of ASEAN in the eyes of the international community,” said Prayuth.
ASEAN called days after its special envoy Erywan Yusof said the junta denied him sufficient access https://reut.rs/3vdCjIW, including the deposed elected leader https://reut.rs/30uv6sB Aung San Suu Kyi, accused of several crimes.
Suu Kyi, 76, appeared in court on Tuesday and denied one of the charges https://reut.rs/3BgdJbu, inciting public alarm, media reported.
Prayuth said he hoped the junta would trust ASEAN’s intentions and that Erywan could visit Myanmar soon and take “an important first step in the confidence-building process.”
Burmese security forces have killed more than 1,000 people and detained thousands, many of them tortured and beaten, according to UN envoys, who say army offensives in civilian areas have caused massive displacement.
Myanmar dismissed this as biased and exaggerated by unreliable sources https://reut.rs/3pIgjFn and accuses the “terrorists” https://reut.rs/2ZgZJBG loyal to a shadow government of national unity (NUG), an alliance of anti-coup groups, militias and ethnic minority rebels.
US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan meets with NUG officials https://bit.ly/3mgIrgF Monday.
ASEAN leaders also scheduled to meet with Chinese and South Korean leaders, while US President Joe Biden will attend https://www.reuters.com/world/president-biden-attend-asean-us-summit-tuesday-2021-10-25 a joint session and announce up to $ 102 million in funding https://www.reuters.com/world/biden-announce-up-102-mln-funding-us-asean-partnership-2021-10-26 for the United States-ASEAN partnership.
Some analysts predict a long standoff between Myanmar and ASEAN after a crisis they say exposed the bloc’s weaknesses and its need for a different approach.
Thitinan Pongsudhirak, director of the Institute of Security and International Studies at Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok, said ASEAN’s best chance for success is to engage with outside powers and all parties in Myanmar. .
“The principle of non-interference no longer holds because the Myanmar armed forces have lowered the standards of acceptable governance so low that they have alienated and undermined ASEAN within the international community,” Thitinan said.
(Reporting by Ain Bandial in Bandar Seri Begawan; Additional reporting by Tom Allard in Sydney, Stanley Widianto in Jakarta; A. Ananthalakshmi in Kuala Lumpur, Panu Wongcha-um in Bangkok; Writing by Martin Petty; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore and Nick Macfie)