NUG welcomes ASEAN’s decision to exclude Myanmar junta from summit

Myanmar’s shadow government said on Monday that it welcomed a decision by the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) not to allow the country’s military chief to attend a summit of the regional grouping later this month.

In a statement, the National Unity Government (NUG) called the move an “unprecedented and positive step” and urged the bloc to ensure that not only junta members, but also “any individuals and organisations” associated with the regime, are barred from the summit.

“ASEAN must ensure the Myanmar representative can objectively represent the interests of Myanmar and its people,” the NUG said in its statement.

“We stand ready to provide recommendations for [a] non-political representative for ASEAN’s evaluation and consideration,” it added in response to the bloc’s announcement that it would invite an alternative representative for Myanmar to the summit. 

On Saturday, Asean’s current chair Brunei announced that junta chief Min Aung Hlaing would not be invited to the upcoming summit due to his regime’s failure to implement a five-point consensus reached between the junta and the regional grouping in April.

Military spokesperson Maj-Gen Zaw Min Tun called the decision “disappointing” and remarked that the regional association’s policy of non-interference in the internal affairs of member states had been weakened due to “external pressures and other reasons,” according to a report by the BBC’s Burmese-language service.

The NUG said, however, that the military had taken advantage of the principle to prevent meaningful engagement to resolve Myanmar’s current political crisis as it continued to try to consolidate control over the country “by force and violence.”

“The junta has betrayed not only its own people but also the leadership of ASEAN,” the NUG statement said.

In a 13-minute televised address on Monday, Min Aung Hlaing accused the NUG, the ousted lawmakers’ Committee Representing Pyidaungsu Hluttaw (CRPH), and some ethnic armed groups of inciting violence and sabotaging the military’s efforts to restore peace and stability since the April consensus.

“We still have to solve this till today,” he said, arguing that opponents of the regime are chiefly responsible for the ongoing violence in the country.

“No one has been trying to prevent and stop their violence, but they have demanded that we solve those problems. ASEAN should help us deal with that,” he added. 

Myanmar coup leader Min Aung Hlaing speaks on state television on October 18

Regarding last week’s postponement of a planned trip to Myanmar by ASEAN’s special envoy to the country, Erywan Yusof, the junta chief said that further negotiations would be needed before the visit could go ahead.

In his address, Min Aung Hlaing also said that those currently serving prison sentences or still in custody facing charges for their involvement in protests would soon be released.

Later in the day, the junta announced plans to release 1,316 convicted detainees and drop charges against an additional 4,320 individuals, including some who are still at large, on “humanitarian grounds.”

However, those who receive the regime’s clemency will also be required to sign a pledge stating that they agree not to take part in anti-regime activities, the announcement said.

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