ASEAN envoys meet Myanmar junta leader

Envoys from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations held talks with Myanmar’s junta Friday, with its top general reiterating he would only allow fresh elections once the coup-stricken country had returned to “normal.” 

Myanmar has been in chaos and its economy paralysed since the military ousted Aung San Suu Kyi’s government in February, accusing it of fraud during 2020 elections.

More than 800 people have since been killed in a brutal military crackdown on dissent according to a local monitoring group, and fighting has flared up with several ethnic rebel groups.

Erywan Pehin Yusof, Brunei’s second minister for foreign affairs, and ASEAN Secretary-General Lim Jock Hoi held discussions with junta leader Min Aung Hlaing, the junta’s information team said in a statement.

The top general said the junta would hold fresh elections when “the situation has returned to normal,” according to the statement, without providing details.

The junta has previously said it would hold elections within two years.

ASEAN has led diplomatic efforts to resolve the crisis in Myanmar, but the regional bloc is not known for its diplomatic clout, and observers have questioned how effectively it can influence events in the country.

Min Aung Hlaing attended a meeting on the crisis with the leaders of the 10-country bloc in April — his first overseas trip since he seized power.

Following that meeting — which was closed to media — leaders issued a “five-point consensus” statement that called for the “immediate cessation of violence” and a visit to Myanmar by a regional special envoy.

But the general said in a later television interview that Myanmar was not ready to adopt the plan.

A special envoy has yet to be appointed, and violence has continued across the country.

A shadow government made up of former lawmakers — mostly from Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy Party — on Thursday called on all visiting leaders to meet with its representatives, too.

It was not clear whether the ASEAN envoys planned to meet with members of the shadow government, which the junta has designated as “terrorists.” 

Close Bitnami banner