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ASEAN condemns the lack of peace progress in Myanmar

#ASEAN #condemns #lack #peace #progress #Myanmar

Southeast Asian ministers on Friday condemned the lack of progress on a crisis resolution plan for coup-hit Myanmar and urged the junta to take action ahead of a regional summit later this year.

Myanmar has been in chaos since a coup last February, and the death toll from the military’s crackdown on dissidents has surpassed 2,100, according to a local watchdog.

Anger is growing among some members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) over the generals’ blockade, particularly after last month’s execution of four prisoners – including two prominent pro-democracy figures.

The 10-strong bloc, which has so far spearheaded unsuccessful efforts to resolve the unrest, issued a joint statement following foreign ministers’ talks in Phnom Penh.

The ministers said they were “deeply disappointed by the limited progress and lack of commitment by the Naypyidaw authorities to the timely and full implementation of the five-point consensus”.

And in a veiled warning to Myanmar’s junta, the statement – citing Article 20 of the ASEAN Charter – noted that the leaders’ meeting later this year could still take action over “non-compliance”.

ASEAN decisions are usually taken by consensus, but Article 20 allows a summit meeting to override this principle.

Myanmar’s top diplomat Wunna Maung Lwin was not invited to Phnom Penh and was also barred from a foreign ministers’ retreat in February, while junta leader Min Aung Hlaing was snubbed at a leaders’ summit last year.

The foreign ministers also condemned the executions last month of Phyo Zeya Thaw, a rapper-turned lawmaker to ousted civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi, and veteran political activist Kyaw Min Yu, better known as “Jimmy”.

Earlier in the week, Malaysia – which has led calls for tougher measures – said Myanmar could be expelled from the bloc if members did not see concrete progress ahead of the leaders’ summit.

ASEAN has long been derided by critics as toothless gossip, but alongside Malaysia, the Philippines, Indonesia and Singapore are also pushing for a harder line on Myanmar.

Friday’s statement said ASEAN’s special envoy for Myanmar must be allowed to meet with “all relevant stakeholders” – a reference to the military junta’s decision to block access to the detained Suu Kyi.

The Nobel laureate and democracy icon faces a string of charges that could see her jailed for more than 150 years.

– Tensions in Taiwan –

The latest communiqué did not specifically mention the dispute between China and the United States this week following the visit of US House Speaker Nancy Pelosis to Taiwan.

An enraged Beijing launched its biggest-ever military drills in the waters surrounding the self-governing island in response to Thursday’s visit.

But the ASEAN foreign ministers warned against “provocative actions.”

The situation “could lead to miscalculations, serious confrontations, open conflicts and unpredictable consequences between the major powers,” they said in a joint statement released on Thursday.

Ministers also held regional security talks with their counterparts from the US, China, Russia, Japan and Australia at the East Asia Summit on Friday.

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