Myanmar junta rebuffs Cambodia ex-leader’s request to meet Suu Kyi

The regime has only allowed the imprisoned civilian leader to meet with one foreign envoy in the three years since it ousted her government

Myanmar’s junta on Wednesday denied a request by former Cambodian leader Hun Sen for talks with democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi, who has been detained since a 2021 coup.

Suu Kyi has largely been hidden from view since the military detained her as they seized power in a putsch that has plunged the country into turmoil.

The junta has rebuffed numerous requests by foreign leaders and diplomats to meet the Nobel laureate, 78, who has reportedly suffered health problems during more than three years in detention.

On Tuesday Hun Sen, who ruled Cambodia for nearly four decades before stepping down last year, said he had requested a meeting with Suu Kyi during video talks with junta chief Min Aung Hlaing.

But the junta had “no reason to facilitate it at this moment,” junta spokesman Zaw Min Tun said in an audio message released by the military’s information team.

The military would hold promised and much-delayed fresh elections “without fail,” he said, without giving details.

“We are going to avoid matters which can delay or disturb future processes.”

Since her detention Suu Kyi’s only known encounter with a foreign envoy came in July last year, when the then Thai foreign minister Don Pramudwinai said he had met her for over an hour.

Suu Kyi is serving a 27-year sentence imposed by a junta court after a trial condemned by rights groups as a sham to shut her out of politics.

Last month the junta said she was being “given necessary care” as temperatures in the military-built capital Naypyitaw, where she is believed to be detained, hit around 40°C (104°F).

Zaw Min Tun also addressed Thai media reports that former Thai leader Thaksin Shinawatra had recently held talks with several Myanmar ethnic armed groups operating along their shared border.

Some of those groups have given shelter and military training to those fighting the junta’s coup and have themselves clashed regularly with the military.

“We assume that encouraging terrorists groups which destroy Myanmar interests is not appropriate,” Zaw Min Tun said.

The military launched its coup citing unsubstantiated claims of massive electoral fraud in 2020 elections won resoundingly by Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy.

It has pushed back a timetable to hold fresh polls several times.

In March Min Aung Hlaing said his regime may not be able to hold polls nationwide as it struggles to crush opposition to its rule.

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