Bangkok Post

Junta hounded on peace plan


Malaysia does not want Myanmar’s junta chief to attend an upcoming Southeast Asian leaders’ summit if he fails to honour his commitment to a peace plan, its foreign minister said yesterday, ahead of a meeting to decide on a regional response.

The minister, Saifuddin Abdullah, said he was informed Erywan Yusof, a special envoy for Asean, planned to visit Myanmar next week, and the bloc’s foreign ministers were to hold a virtual meeting yesterday to assess the junta’s commitment to the peace process.

Myanmar’s military seized power in a Feb 1 coup led by Senior General Min Aung Hlaing, which ended a decade of tentative democracy and triggered a backlash that has plunged the country into chaos.

“This evening we will be looking at the details of the proposed visit,” Mr Saifuddin told a news conference. “If there is no real progress then Malaysia’s stand would remain that we do not want the general to be attending the summit. No compromise on that.”

Min Aung Hlaing in April agreed to a five-point Asean plan that the group called a “consensus” on a way out of the deadly turmoil in Myanmar since the military overthrew Aung San Suu Kyi, alleging fraud in an election her party won in a landslide.

The commitment includes dialogue with all parties, humanitari­an access and a cessation of all hostilitie­s.

Several Asean members have expressed exasperati­on with the junta’s failure to follow the plan, which the United Nations, China and United States initially supported.

Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia have indicated they were in favour of excluding Min Aung Hlaing from the Oct 26-28 virtual summit, but were pushing for an Asean consensus, three sources with knowledge of the issue told Reuters this week.

Mr Saifuddin yesterday said without a consensus, there was no protocol for excluding an Asean member. However, he believed there would be a solution.

“We do not have a system where you downgrade a particular member’s representa­tion to the summit. So there are probably other ways of doing this,” he said.

Zaw Min Tun, the Myanmar junta spokesman, this week said Mr Erywan would not be allowed to meet Ms Suu Kyi because she is charged with crimes.

Myanmar’s foreign ministry on Thursday issued a statement saying it was committed to the Asean plan and receiving the envoy. It suggested that Mr Erywan should prioritise ways to “build trust and confidence” on his first trip.

Thailand’s foreign ministry took a conciliato­ry tone, saying it viewed Myanmar as a member of the Asean family.

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