ASEAN downgrades Myanmar presence in summit in major rebuke
KUALA LUMPUR (AP) — Southeast Asian foreign minsters have accepted to lower Myanmar’s participation at an upcoming summit. This is their strongest rebuke of the leaders since a February 1 military takeover.
The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) will invite a nonpolitical representative to replace Myanmar’s military leader, Senior General Min Aung Hlaing. Brunei, the grouping’s chair, said Saturday.
The 10-member group has been subject to intense international pressure to act more to make Myanmar a member of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations. This has resulted in more than 1 ,100 civilian killed and scores of political figures including Aung San Suu Kyi, who was ousted as civilian leader. After Myanmar refused to cooperate,
ASEAN foreign mins met in an emergency meeting on Friday. After being appointed in August to mediate the crisis, Erywan Yusof abruptly cancelled a trip to Myanmar this weeks after being told that he wouldn’t be able meet with Suu Kyi or other people as he desired.
Myanmar claimed Erywan was unable to meet with those facing legal proceedings, such as Suu Kyi or the deposed President Win Myint, or with entities that were declared illegal. Brunei stated in a statement.
Suukyi and other high-ranking civilian leaders were taken into custody during the army takeover. Her supporters and independent analysts claim that she is trying to legitimize military action.
Brunei stated that ASEAN ministers were concerned by the Myanmar crisis’ impact on regional security.
The bloc’s envoy must be able to access all parties concerned, it added. The Oct. 26-28 summit has been requested by members of the opposition’s National Unity Government which considers itself a shadow government.
The ASEAN foreign ministers were not in agreement about inviting a Myanmar political representative to the summit. Instead, they invited a non-political representative to allow Myanmar “space to return to normalcy and restore its internal affairs.”
” This was a difficult decision, but it was necessary to maintain ASEAN’s credibility in light of the “unsatisfactory” and “highly limited progress” made to resolve the crisis.
Officials didn’t say who would be invited.
In dealing with Myanmar, ASEAN has been hindered by its fundamental policy of noninterference into the domestic affairs member countries and its consensus decision making. Malaysia, Indonesia, and the Philippines believe that action is necessary because of potential instability in the region.
Myanmar has been widely criticized for not honoring its promises, even though it claims to have assisted in humanitarian aid.
Letting Min Aung Hlaing participate in the summit via video might be considered a recognition of the military overthrow, which has halted one the most remarkable democratic transitions in Asia after decades of military rule. President Joe Biden will be among the world’s top leaders to attend. He has condemned the takeover of Myanmar and authorized sanctions against its generals, family members, and associates. The United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and South Korea issued a joint statement on Friday supporting the ASEAN envoy. They called on Myanmar to cooperate constructively with Erywan, and allowed him to meet with the parties involved.
” The military has not been willing to cooperate with ASEAN to address the crisis in Burma,” Ned Price, a spokesperson for the U.S. State Department, told reporters in Washington. “We continue to support those ASEAN efforts to press the regime and we continue to support a visit by the ASEAN special envoy.”
Associated Press writers Jim Gomez in Manila, Philippines and Matthew Lee in Washington contributed to this report.