Foreign ministers express their disappointment at the inability of the military administration to implement the crisis plan agreed in April 2021.
Foreign ministers of the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) have agreed to ban Myanmar’s ruling generals from participating in the group’s meetings until They are making progress on a 15-month-old plan to resolve the crisis sparked by the military coup.
Speaking at a press conference following a series of ASEAN regional meetings in Phnom Penh, Cambodian Foreign Minister Prak Sokhonn, who is also special envoy to Myanmar, said the generals “must act in a way that shows progress is being made, and then 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 which was agreed with the army chief and coup leader, General Min Aung Hlaing in April 2021, and demanded that the self-proclaimed State Administrative Council (SAC) take action to stick to the plan ahead of a regional summit in November.
The ministers said they were “deeply disappointed with the limited progress and lack of commitment by the Naypyidaw authorities for the prompt and full implementation of the five-point consensus”.
And in a veiled warning to Myanmar’s military authorities, the statement – referencing Article 20 of the ASEAN Charter – noted that the leaders’ meeting later this year could still take action in the event of “no -compliance “.
Myanmar was plunged into 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 movement of mass civil disobedience, nationwide protests and the formation of anti-coup armed groups to which the army responded with brutal force.
Some 2,158 people have been killed by the armed forces since the coup, and anger is growing at the generals’ intransigence, especially after the execution last month of four political prisoners.
Army rejects statement
In a Foreign Ministry statement published on the front page of Myanmar’s official Global New Light newspaper on Saturday, the military said it rejected the ASEAN statement and would continue to follow its own “five-point plan”. points”, which was printed next to the statement on the front page of the newspaper.
“Myanmar believes that ASEAN can only maintain its long-term unity and centrality if all ASEAN Member States abide by the provisions and fundamental principles of the ASEAN Charter, in particular equality, inclusiveness, sovereignty and non-interference in the internal affairs of ASEAN member states,” he said.
Military-appointed foreign minister Wunna Maung Lwin was not invited to Phnom Penh and was also excluded from a foreign ministers’ retreat in February, while Min Aung Hlaing was snubbed during of the leaders’ summit last year.
ASEAN foreign ministers also condemned the executions of Phyo Zeya Thaw, a rapper-turned-politician who was a member of Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy party, and veteran political activist Kyaw Min Yu, better known as Ko Jimmy.
Malaysia has called for a tougher approach to Myanmar’s military administration and also called on the group to engage with the National Unity Government (NUG) established by politicians elected generals removed from power.
The Philippines, Indonesia and Singapore also pushed for a tougher line.
The five-point consensus called for an immediate end to the violence, the appointment of a special envoy and discussions involving all stakeholders. Friday’s ASEAN statement stressed that the envoy must be allowed to meet with “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 it allow Prak Sokhonn to do so.
The Nobel laureate was jailed after a closed trial and faces a series of charges that could put her behind bars for years.
Myanmar joined ASEAN in 1997 under a previous military regime.
The SAC has sought to label those who oppose its takeover as “terrorists”.
According to the United Nations, hundreds of thousands of people have been forced to flee their homes following military attacks, while human rights experts have accused the army of war crimes for attacks on civilians.