ASEAN excludes Myanmar junta chief from attendance at summit

WION Web Team
New DelhiUpdated: Oct 16, 2021, 06:29 PM IST

Myanmar's junta chief Senior General Min Aung Hlaing(file photo) Photograph:(Reuters)

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The ASEAN bloc has decided that a 'non-political representative' from Myanmar would be invited for the summit. This has barred path of Military junta chief Min Aung Hlaing to attendthe summit

Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) decided that a "non-political representative" from Myanmar would be invited for the ASEAN Summit that will take place between October 26 and 28. This decision has effectively excluded Myanmar junta leader Min Aung Hlaing from attending the summit. This is a rare rebuke that has come amid concerns over military governemnt's commitment to defusing the crisis in Myanmar.

The Myanmar junta slammed the decision on Saturday evening, accusing ASEAN of breaching the bloc's policy of non-interference in the domestic affairs of its member states.

"We can also see the interference from the other (non-ASEAN) countries," junta spokesman brigadier general Zaw Min Tun told the BBC Burmese section.

He seized on talks between the US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken and ASEAN special envoy, Brunei's Second Foreign Minister Erywan Yusof, ahead of the meeting and also singled out EU pressure.

The bloc, widely criticised as a toothless organisation, took a strong stand after the junta rebuffed requests that a special envoy meet with "with all stakeholders" in Myanmar -- a phrase seen to include ousted civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

The statement noted "insufficient progress" in the implementation of a five-point plan agreed by ASEAN leaders in April to end turmoil following a coup in February.

It also said that the situation in Myanmar "was having an impact on regional security as well as the unity, credibility and centrality of ASEAN".

Richard Horsey, Myanmar adviser to Crisis Group, predicted the "non-political" representative would be someone below the level of minister or deputy minister.

Singapore's foreign ministry described the move as a "difficult but necessary decision to uphold ASEAN's credibility".

Mustafa Izzuddin, global affairs analyst at consultancy Solaris Strategies Singapore, called the exclusion "a political stopgap measure for ASEAN to assuage international criticism".

It sent a "political signal" to the junta "that ASEAN is not one to be pushed around", Izzuddin added.

And independent Myanmar analyst David Mathieson said that "in ASEAN terms this is a real slap in the face".

(With inputs from agencies)