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MYANMAR: ASEAN weighs excluding junta boss from summit

SOUTHEAST Asian countries are discussing not inviting the head of Myanmar’s junta to a summit this month, due to the military’s failure to make progress on an agreed roadmap to restore peace in the strife-torn country, a regional envoy said on Wednesday.

The junta’s inaction on a five-point plan it agreed in April with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) was “tantamount to backtracking”, Erywan Yusof, the bloc’s special envoy to Myanmar, told a news conference.

Erywan, the second foreign minister of ASEAN chair Brunei, said the junta had not directly responded to his requests to meet detained former leader Aung San Suu Kyi, whose government was overthrown in a Feb. 1 coup led by military chief Min Aung Hlaing.

Myanmar has been in turmoil since the coup, which ended a decade of tentative democracy and prompted outrage at home and abroad at the return of military rule.

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

The ASEAN roadmap included a commitment to dialogue with all parties, allowing humanitarian access and ceasing hostilities.

Myanmar’s long history of military dictatorship and alleged human rights abuses has been ASEAN’s most tricky issue, testing the limits of its unity and its policy of non-interference.

But the foreign ministers meeting virtually on Monday voiced disappointment about the lack of progress made by the State Administrative Council (SAC), as Myanmar’s junta is known.

Malaysia’s top diplomat Saifuddin Abdullah on Twitter said that without progress, “it would be difficult to have the chairman of the SAC at the ASEAN summit”.

He reiterated his remark about Min Aung Hlaing in parliament on Wednesday and said the ASEAN envoy was doing “whatever is humanly possible” to make progress on the roadmap.

Myanmar junta spokesman Zaw Min Tun did not respond to calls from Reuters on Wednesday. Last week he told a news conference that Myanmar was cooperating with ASEAN “without compromising the country’s sovereignty”.

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Naija Times