23 May 2024

Myanmar has accepted a proposal to stop violence against civilians, Malaysian Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin said on Saturday after an ASEAN meeting on the crisis in Myanmar.

Malaysian news agency Bernama quoted him as saying that the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) meeting was a success beyond their expectation in getting the outcome from today’s meeting.

The special ASEAN summit Saturday marked Myanmar junta leader Gen Min Aung Hlaing’s first foreign trip since security forces staged a coup that ousted civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi in early February.

Min Aung Hlaing has become the focus of international outrage over the coup and a subsequent crackdown on dissent that has left more than 700 dead.

This handout photo taken and released on April 24, 2021 by the Indonesian Presidential Palace shows Myanmar junta leader Min Aung Hlaing (L) being greeted during his arrival at Jakarta’s Soekarno-Hatta international airport, to attend the ASEAN summit on the Myanmar crisis. (Photo by INDONESIAN PRESIDENTIAL PALACE / AFP)

Singapore’s local media also reported that Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said on Saturday Myanmar junta leader was not opposed to a visit by a delegation from the ASEAN.

“He said he heard us, he would take the points in which he considered helpful, that he was not opposed to ASEAN playing a constructive role, or an ASEAN delegation visit, or humanitarian assistance, and that they would move forward and engage with ASEAN in a constructive way,” Lee said in comments reported by broadcaster Channel NewsAsia.

Indonesian President Joko Widodo said after the special summit that Myanmar’s military must restore democracy and stop committing violence against citizens.

“The first requested commitment is for the Myanmar military to stop the use of violence and that all parties there at the same time must refrain so that tensions can be reduced,” Widodo said.

“The violence must be stopped and democracy, stability and peace in Myanmar must be restored.”

Widodo and other ASEAN leaders also called for the release of political prisoners and for a special envoy to be allowed into the country to “push for dialogue”.

Meanwhile, Thai foreign Affair Minister, Don Pramudwinai posted on his personal Twitter account saying that Thailand has proposed setting up a mechanism called ‘Friends of the Chair’ to help coordinate ASEAN effort in addressing situation in Myanmar, along with what described as the ‘D4D’, he said, as the way forward for Myanmar through “de-escalating violence, delivering humanitarian assistance, discharge of detainees and dialogue.”

Also at the weekend meeting was the Sultan of Brunei, the current chair of ASEAN, as well as leaders and foreign ministers from most of the 10-country group, including Malaysia, Cambodia, Thailand, Vietnam, the Philippines and Laos.

Small protests outside the bloc’s Jakarta headquarters were dispersed by security personnel.

‘Be realistic’

However, there have also been calls for the regional bloc to expel Myanmar. But ASEAN generally takes a hands-off approach to members’ internal affairs.

Few analysts had expected major breakthroughs from the meeting, saying instead it was a chance to bring Myanmar’s military to the bargaining table and pave the way for a possible resolution.

“We have to be realistic here. I don’t think the summit is going to bear out a full-blown plan on how to get Myanmar out of the conflict,” Mustafa Izzuddin, senior international affairs analyst at Solaris Strategies Singapore, said before the talks.

“But rather I think it will start the conversation and perhaps lay the parameters as to how a resolution could be found.”

The crisis engulfing Myanmar has delivered a major challenge to the future of the ASEAN bloc and its consensus-driven approach.

“International eyes are on (it) to see whether the regional approach that ASEAN has taken to find a resolution in Myanmar is effective,” Izzuddin said.

by Reuters/AFP