Southeast Asian Foreign Ministers have agreed to downgrade Myanmar’s attendance at an upcoming summit in their harshest rebuke to its leaders following a military takeover on February 1.

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations becomes Senior General in place of Myanmar’s military leader Min Aung Hlaing, a non-political representative, said the group’s chairman, Brunei, on October 16. The decision was made at an emergency meeting on late October 15 after Myanmar refused to speak with the crisis envoy of the bloc, Erywan Yusof, Brunei’s second foreign minister.

In a swift reaction, the Myanmar Foreign Ministry said it was “extremely disappointed and vehement” at the group’s decision, which was taken without a consensus.

“Linking the question of Myanmar’s representation at the ASEAN summit with the special envoy’s visit would be counterproductive It’s just putting pressure on Myanmar, ”the statement said.

The ten-man bloc was under strong international pressure to do more to force the member state of Myanmar, numerous political figures, including the ousted civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi, and stop the violence that killed more than 1,100 civilians.

The ASEAN envoy abruptly canceled a trip to Myanmar this week after being told he was Suu Kyi and could not meet others as desired.

Myanmar claimed that Yerevan could not meet with people like Suu Kyi and the ousted President Win Myint, Brunei said in a statement.

Suu Kyi and other high-ranking civilian leaders became arrested when the army came to power. She faces various allegations which, according to her supporters and independent analysts, are an attempt to legitimize the military action.

The Brunei statement stated that ASEAN ministers were concerned about the impact of the Myanmar crisis on regional security and the “unity, credibility and centrality of ASEAN as a rule-based organization”. The bloc’s envoy must have access to all parties concerned, it said.

Members of the government of the National Unity of the Political Opposition, which sees itself as a shadow government, have asked to attend the October 26-28 summit It said.

There was no consensus among ASEAN Foreign Ministers to have a Myanmar political representative at the summit.

In dealing with Myanmar, ASEAN was supported by its basic policy of non-interference in internal affairs of the member countries and their consensus decisions paralyzed. Some member countries, such as Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines, consider action justified as major unrest in Myanmar could spark regional instability.

Myanmar is widely viewed as having very little to meet its commitments, despite claiming to facilitate humanitarian aid Min Aung Hlaing’s participation in the video summit could be seen as recognition of the military takeover that has halted one of the most phenomenal democratic transitions in Asia after decades of military rule.

Among the world leaders who will attend is President Joe Biden, who condemned the takeover and approved sanctions against Myanmar’s generals, their family members and staff.

The US, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Norway, South Korea , The European Union and the UK made a joint declaration of support on Friday g submitted for the ASEAN envoy. They called on Myanmar to work constructively with Yerevan and to allow him to meet with affected parties.

“The military has not been ready to work productively with ASEAN to respond to the crisis in Burma,” said the US spokesman – State Department, Ned Price, told reporters in Washington.

Southeast Asian Foreign Ministers have agreed to downgrade Myanmar’s attendance at an upcoming summit in their harshest reprimand to date for its leaders following a February 1 military takeover.

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Ref: https://www.hurriyetdailynews.com