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Myanmar junta chief says military open to negotiations with Suu Kyi after her trial

#Myanmar #junta #chief #military #open #negotiations #Suu #Kyi #trial

Myanmar’s military chief said Friday the junta was open to negotiations with ousted leader Aung San Suu Kyi to end the crisis sparked by her coup after their trials in a junta-led court were completed.

“After the legal procedures against them are completed according to the law, we will consider (negotiations) based on their response,” Min Aung Hlaing said in a statement.

Suu Kyi, 77, has been jailed since generals overthrew her government in a coup on February 1 last year, ending the brief spell of democracy in the Southeast Asian country.

She has been jailed for 17 years on a range of charges that rights groups say are politically motivated.

Suu Kyi faces more decades in prison if she is convicted on a range of other charges she is fighting in a closed junta court.

Journalists have been excluded from the trials, their lawyers have been gagged to speak to the media and the junta has given no indication of when their trials might end.

In July, a junta spokesman told AFP it was “not impossible” for the regime to enter into dialogue with Suu Kyi to resolve the turmoil sparked by the military’s takeover last year.

“We cannot say that (negotiations with Suu Kyi) are impossible,” Zaw Min Tun told AFP at the time.

Suu Kyi remains a revered figure locally for her courageous defiance of a former junta, although her international reputation has suffered after winning the 2015 election and ruling under a power-sharing deal with the generals.

But for those currently engaged in battles with the military, many have said the movement must go further than what the Nobel laureate spearheaded decades ago.

Dissidents now say the goal now is to permanently eradicate military dominance from the country’s politics and economy.

– deadlocked diplomacy –

Diplomatic efforts by the 10-nation bloc Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) – of which Myanmar is a member – have so far failed to stop the bloodshed.

Last year the bloc agreed to a “five-point consensus” calling for an end to the violence and constructive dialogue, but the junta has largely ignored it.

This week, UN special envoy Noeleen Heyzer made her first trip to the country since her appointment last year, meeting junta chief Min Aung Hlaing and other senior military officials.

But she was denied a meeting with Suu Kyi, and human rights groups said they had little optimism her visit would convince the military to end its bloody crackdown and engage in dialogue with opponents of his coup.

More than 2,200 people have been killed and over 15,000 arrested since the military took power, according to a local monitoring group.

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