No invitation for Myanmar military leader at ASEAN summit
Southeast Asian countries will invite a non-political representative from Myanmar to a regional summit this month, delivering an unprecedented snub to the military leader who led a coup against an elected civilian government in February this year.
The decision, taken by foreign ministers from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) at an emergency meeting on Friday night, marks a rare bold step for the consensus-driven bloc, which has traditionally favoured a policy of engagement and non-interference.
On Saturday, Singapore’s foreign ministry said the move to exclude military government chief Senior General Min Aung Hlaing was a “difficult but necessary decision to uphold ASEAN’s credibility”.
The statement noted “insufficient progress” in the implementation of a five-point plan agreed by ASEAN leaders in April to end turmoil following the coup.
ASEAN’s current chair Brunei said a non-political figure from Myanmar would be invited to the October 26-28 summit, after no consensus was reached for a political representative to attend.
“As there had been insufficient progress … as well as concerns over Myanmar’s commitment, in particular on establishing constructive dialogue among all concerned parties, some ASEAN Member States recommended that ASEAN give space to Myanmar to restore its internal affairs and return to normalcy,” Brunei said in a statement.
It did not mention Min Aung Hlaing or name who would be invited in his place.
Zaw Min Tun, a spokesman for Myanmar’s military government, blamed “foreign intervention” for the rare exclusion of Min Aung Hlaing from the summit, and told the BBC Burmese news service that the United States and representatives of the European Union had pressured other leaders of the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to exclude the military leader from the summit later this month.
“The foreign interventions can also be seen here,” he said. “Before, we learned that some envoys from some countries met with US foreign affairs and received pressure from EU.”
An official statement from Myanmar’s military on Sunday morning said ASEAN’s decision went against its longtime central principle of consensus.
“Myanmar is extremely disappointed and strongly objected the outcomes of the Emergency Foreign Ministers’ Meeting as the discussions and decision on Myanmar’s representation issue was done without consensus and was against the objectives of the ASEAN, the ASEAN Charter and its principles,” it said.