No invitation for Myanmar army gov’t chief at ASEAN summit

Southeast Asian international locations will invite a non-political consultant from Myanmar to a regional summit this month, delivering an unprecedented snub to the army chief who led a coup in opposition to an elected civilian authorities in February this yr.

The choice, taken by overseas ministers from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) at an emergency assembly on Friday evening, marks a uncommon daring step for the consensus-driven bloc, which has historically favoured a coverage of engagement and non-interference.

On Saturday, Singapore’s overseas ministry mentioned the move to exclude army authorities chief Senior General Min Aung Hlaing was a “difficult but necessary decision to uphold ASEAN’s credibility”.

The assertion famous “insufficient progress” within the implementation of a five-point plan agreed by ASEAN leaders in April to finish turmoil following the coup.

ASEAN’s present chair Brunei mentioned a non-political determine from Myanmar could be invited to the October 26-28 summit, after no consensus was reached for a political consultant to attend.

“As there had been insufficient progress … as well as concerns over Myanmar’s commitment, in particular on establishing constructive dialogue among all concerned parties, some ASEAN Member States recommended that ASEAN give space to Myanmar to restore its internal affairs and return to normalcy,” Brunei mentioned in a press release.

It didn’t point out Min Aung Hlaing or identify who could be invited in his place.

Zaw Min Tun, a spokesman for Myanmar’s army authorities, blamed “foreign intervention” for the uncommon exclusion of Min Aung Hlaing from the summit, and informed the BBC Burmese information service that the United States and representatives of the European Union had pressured different leaders of the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to exclude the army chief from the summit later this month.

“The foreign interventions can also be seen here,” he mentioned. “Before, we learned that some envoys from some countries met with US foreign affairs and received pressure from EU.”

‘Political stopgap measure’

More than 1,000 civilians have been killed and hundreds arrested by Myanmar safety forces, based on the United Nations, amid a crackdown on strikes and protests which has derailed the nation’s tentative democracy and prompted worldwide condemnation.

The army authorities says these estimates of the dying toll are exaggerated.

Mustafa Izzuddin, a world affairs analyst at consultancy Solaris Strategies Singapore, referred to as the exclusion “a political stopgap measure for ASEAN to assuage international criticism”.

“It ensures its [ASEAN’s] regional reputation as an organisation that can still play an active role in Southeast Asian affairs,” he informed AFP information company.

Izzuddin additionally mentioned the move despatched a “political signal” to the army authorities “that ASEAN is not one to be pushed around, and that Myanmar must show its seriousness and its commitment to roll out the five-point plan”.

Brunei added that some member states had obtained requests from Myanmar’s National Unity Government, fashioned by opponents of the army authorities, to attend the summit.

‘Justified downgrade’

ASEAN has confronted rising worldwide strain to take a harder stand in opposition to Myanmar, having been criticised prior to now for its ineffectiveness in coping with leaders accused of rights abuses, subverting democracy and intimidating political opponents.

A US State Department official informed reporters on Friday that it was “perfectly appropriate and in fact completely justified” for ASEAN to downgrade Myanmar’s participation on the coming summit.

Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi mentioned in a tweet her nation had proposed that Myanmar “should not be represented at the political level” on the summit till it restores “its democracy through an inclusive process”.

Singapore urged Myanmar to cooperate with ASEAN’s envoy, Brunei’s second overseas affairs minister Erywan Yusof.

Erywan has delayed a long-planned go to to the nation in latest weeks and has requested to satisfy all events in Myanmar, together with deposed chief Aung San Suu Kyi, who was detained within the coup.

Zaw Min Tun, the army authorities spokesman, mentioned this week Erywan could be welcome in Myanmar, however wouldn’t be allowed to satisfy Aung San Suu Kyi as a result of she is charged with crimes.