ASEAN to discuss excluding Myanmar junta leader from summit

Updated: October 14th, 2021 08:05 PM IST

Myanmar‘s ruling military has not blocked a special Southeast Asian envoy from visiting the country but will not allow him to meet detained former leader Aung San Suu Kyi, because she is charged with crimes, the junta’s spokesman said.

ASEAN to discuss excluding Myanmar junta leader from summit

A bird flies near the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) secretariat building, ahead of the ASEAN leaders meeting in Jakarta, Indonesia, April 23, 2021. REUTERS/Willy Kurniawan

Oct 14 (Reuters) - Southeast Asian foreign ministers will discuss excluding Myanmar junta chief Min Aung Hlaing from an upcoming summit at a meeting on Friday, sources told Reuters, as pressure builds on the ruling military to comply with an agreed peace roadmap.

The meeting comes as the junta ruled out allowing a regional envoy to meet deposed leader Aung San Suu Kyi, who is on trial on multiple charges since her elected government was overthrown in a Feb. 1 coup.

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) agreed on a five-point consensus with Min Aung Hlaing in April, but several members of the bloc have criticised the juntas failure to implement the plan, which includes dialogue among all parties, humanitarian access and an end to hostilities.

Fridays previously unscheduled virtual meeting will be hosted by ASEAN chair Brunei, according to multiple sources based in ASEAN member countries, who include diplomats and government officials.

Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia had indicated that they were in favour of excluding Min Aung Hlaing from the Oct. 26-28 virtual summit, but were pushing for a consensus among nine ASEAN states, three of the sources said. Myanmar is the 10th ASEAN member.

Philippine Foreign Minister Teodoro Locsin on Thursday voiced support for excluding Min Aung Hlaing from future summits, adding that ASEAN could no longer afford to take a neutral stance on Myanmar.

"We can continue keeping them (Myanmar) at a distance but... if we relent in any way, our credibility as a real regional organisation disappears," Locsin said in an interview with Australian think-tank Lowy Institute.

Myanmar junta spokesman Zaw Min Tun did not respond to calls seeking comment on the meeting. Bruneis foreign ministry did not immediately respond to an emailed request for comment.

Myanmar, with a long history of military dictatorship and international sanctions over systematic human rights abuses, has been ASEANs trickiest issue since the group was formed in 1967, testing the limits of its unity and its policy of non-interference in each others affairs.

More than 1,100 people have been killed since the coup, according to the United Nations, many during a crackdown by security forces on pro-democracy strikes and protests, during which thousands have been arrested.

Erywan Yusof, ASEANs special envoy to Myanmar, last week confirmed some members had been "deep in discussions" about not inviting the military leader. His office declined to comment on Fridays meeting.

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