Southeast Asian countries will invite non-political representatives from Myanmar to this month’s ASEAN summit. The decision was taken by ASEAN foreign ministers at an emergency meeting on Friday (15/10) evening.
Singapore’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said on Saturday (16/10) that the move to exclude junta leader Min Aung Hlaing was a “difficult decision, but necessary, to uphold ASEAN’s credibility.”
The statement cited the lack of progress being made on the roadmap to restore peace in Myanmar that the junta agreed with ASEAN in April.
A spokesman for Myanmar’s military government blamed “foreign intervention” for the decision.
Junta spokesman Zaw Min Tun told the news agency BBC Burma that the United States and European Union representatives have put pressure on other ASEAN member countries.
“Foreign intervention can also be seen here,” he said. “We know that some envoys from several countries are meeting with US foreign affairs and are receiving pressure from the European Union.”
According to the United Nations, more than 1,000 civilians have been killed and thousands more arrested by Myanmar’s security forces in a crackdown on strikes and protests that have derailed the country’s democracy. This sparked international condemnation.
The junta said the estimated death toll was overstated.
The current chairman of ASEAN, Brunei, said a non-political figure from Myanmar would be invited to the Oct. 26-28 summit, after no consensus was reached for the presence of political representatives.
“Due to the lack of adequate progress … as well as concerns over Myanmar’s commitment, particularly in establishing a constructive dialogue among all relevant parties, several ASEAN Member States recommended that ASEAN give Myanmar space to restore its internal affairs and return to normalcy,” said Brunei in a statement. [ah]