6 June 2024

Mover Forward Party leader Pita Limjaroenrat on Tuesday reaffirmed his support for ASEAN centrality in resolving the crisis in Myanmar, in what is seen as an attempt to distance himself from the current Thai government’s peace initiative, which has drawn widespread criticism from both local and international human rights and democracy groups.

Pita also pledged to have an inter-agency task force set up in the Prime Minister’s Office to coordinate multi-pronged efforts and seek solutions to the Myanmar situation.

Pita, whose party emerged with the most House seats in the recent general election, is in the process of setting up a coalition government, with himself as prime minister. Pita has been openly critical of the Prayut government’s policy towards Myanmar, which he sees as too accommodating to the military junta which seized power in early 2021.

The Prayut government has come under heavy criticism for organising a meeting on Monday, as part of its “quiet diplomacy” approach in dealing with the crisis in Myanmar. Myanmar foreign minister Than Swe was invited to attend the meeting, which was boycotted by three ASEAN member countries, including its current chair Indonesia.

Critics accuse the Thai government of according legitimacy to the Myanmar military junta by holding the meeting. Incumbent Foreign Minister Don Pramudwinai, however, insisted that the meeting was necessary to discuss viable solutions to the conflict, which is affecting Thailand directly.

“We reiterate our support for the actions taken within the ASEAN framework, including those by the previous and current Chairs of ASEAN, with a view to achieving the goals and objectives established in the Five-Point Consensus,” Pita said in a statement posted on Facebook.

Pita said his party and its political allies will coordinate with all parties and key stake-holders involved in finding solutions to the crisis.

“We firmly believe that engagement is a critical component of reaching a final solution. Any engagement strategy must be inclusive, multi-layered and appropriate to contribute to the stabilisation of Myanmar, pursuant to the purposes and principles agreed upon within the framework of ASEAN, including those endorsed by ASEAN Leaders at the 42nd ASEAN Summit,” he said.

Pita also emphasises the need for a strategy to deal with the humanitarian crisis in Myanmar and voiced support for an initiative to ensure the delivery of humanitarian assistance that is both indiscriminate and inclusive.