ASEAN to exclude Myanmar’s military leader from Oct. summit
Written by tokyoclub on October 16, 2021
ASEAN foreign ministers agreed to invite a nonpolitical representative from Myanmar to the regional group’s summit later this month, said Brunei, this year’s chair, on Saturday, effectively excluding Myanmar’s military leader.
The ministers made the unprecedented decision at an emergency online meeting Friday, amid a lack of cooperation from the junta, especially its failure to accept the visit by a special ASEAN envoy on Myanmar.
The military government of Senior Gen. Min Aung Hlaing, who led a coup in February that ousted the elected government under civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi, has rejected the special envoy’s request to meet with Suu Kyi and some other opposition leaders.
Myanmar junta leader Senior Gen. Min Aung Hlaing attends a conference on international security in Moscow on June 23, 2021. (Anadolu Agency/Getty/Kyodo)
The special envoy of the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations is supposed to mediate dialogue between all sides in Myanmar’s political turmoil as part of his mandate.
Brunei said in a statement issued Saturday that both the junta and the National Unity Government, an organization set up in opposition to the coup claiming to be Myanmar’s legitimate government, insisted on attending the summit scheduled for Oct. 26 to 28.
“Following extensive discussions, there was no consensus reached for a political representative from Myanmar to attend” the summit, it said, explaining why the ministers decided to invite a nonpolitical representative from Myanmar.
Although the chair said the ministers agreed on the invitation while they reaffirmed the regional group’s principle of noninterference in the domestic affairs of member countries, it is seen that the decision marks a historic shift for ASEAN from the principle.
ASEAN comprises Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.