Foreign ministers expressed disappointment at the military government’s failure to implement the crisis plan agreed in April 2021.
Foreign ministers of the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) have agreed to exclude Myanmar’s ruling generals from the group’s meetings until they make progress on a 15-month-old plan to deal with the crisis. caused by the military coup.
Speaking at a press conference at the end of a series of regional ASEAN meetings in Phnom Penh, Cambodia’s foreign minister Prak Sokhonn, who is also a special envoy to Myanmar, said the generals “should act in a manner that shows that progress has been made, we will be able to act on a decision to show progress”.
On Friday, foreign ministers condemned the lack of progress in the so-called Five-Point Consensus agreed in April 2021 with army chief and coup leader, senior general Min Aung Hlaing, and demanded that the self-proclaimed State Administration Council (SAC) before a regional summit in November to take action to comply with the plan.
Ministers said they were “deeply disappointed with the limited progress and lack of commitment by the Naypyidaw authorities to the timely and full implementation of the five-point consensus”.
And in a disguised warning to Myanmar’s military authorities, the statement — which refers to Article 20 of the ASEAN charter — noted that the leaders’ meeting could still take action later this year over “non-compliance.”
Myanmar entered a crisis when the military arrested elected leader Aung San Suu Kyi and other senior officials in February 2021 and seized power.
The coup sparked a massive civil disobedience movement, nationwide protests and the formation of armed anti-coup groups to which the military has responded with brutal violence.
Some 2,158 people have been killed by the armed forces since the coup and anger at the generals’ intransigence has grown, especially after the execution last month of four political prisoners.
Military rejects statement
In a statement from the State Department published on Saturday on the front page of the state-run Global New Light of Myanmar, the military said it rejected the ASEAN communiqué and would continue to pursue its own “five-point plan”, which will run alongside the newspaper was. statement on the front page of the newspaper.
“Myanmar believes that ASEAN can maintain its long-term unity and centrality only if all ASEAN member states respect the provisions and basic principles of the ASEAN Charter, in particular equality, inclusiveness, sovereignty and non-interference in internal affairs of ASEAN member states,” it said.
The army-appointed foreign minister, Wunna Maung Lwin, was not invited to Phnom Penh nor allowed to participate in a retreat of foreign ministers in February, while Min Aung Hlaing was rejected at last year’s leadership summit.
ASEAN foreign ministers also condemned the executions last month of Phyo Zeya Thaw, a rapper-turned-politician and member of Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy party, and veteran political activist Kyaw Min Yu, who died in popularly known as Ko Jimmy. .
Malaysia has made calls for a tougher approach to Myanmar’s military rule, and has also called on the group to cooperate with the National Unity Government (NUG) set up by the elected politicians who removed the generals from power.
The Philippines, Indonesia and Singapore have also pushed for a firmer line.
The five-point consensus called for an immediate end to the violence, the appointment of a special envoy and talks with all stakeholders. Friday’s ASEAN statement stressed that the envoy must be allowed to meet “all relevant stakeholders”.
The SAC did not allow the first ASEAN envoy, Brunei’s foreign minister, to meet with Aung San Suu Kyi, nor did Prak Sokhonn.
The Nobel laureate has been jailed after a closed court trial, and faces a series of charges that could put her behind bars for years.
Myanmar joined ASEAN in 1997 under an earlier military regime.
The SAC has sought to label those who oppose the coup as “terrorists”.
Hundreds of thousands of people have been forced to flee their homes as a result of military strikes, according to the United Nations, while human rights experts have accused the military of war crimes for attacks on civilians.