Myanmar’s Junta Chief Responds To ASEAN Summit Snub

Min Aung Hlaing
Min Aung Hlaing

Myanmar’s junta chief yesterday said that the ruling military was committed to peace and democracy and that ASEAN should consider the provocations and violence being carried out by its opponents.

In his first comments since Myanmar’s neighbours decided to exclude him from the meeting over a lack of commitment to its five-point roadmap, Min Aung Hlaing reiterated the junta’s own five-stage plan to restore democracy.

Min Aung Hlaing, who led the 1st February coup that plunged Myanmar into deadly chaos, made no mention of ASEAN’s decision but suggested that the outlawed National Unity Government (NUG) and armed ethnic groups were trying to sabotage the ASEAN-led peace process.

“More violence happened due to provocations of terrorist groups,” he said in a speech on television, where he appeared in civilian attire. “No one cares about their violence and is only demanding we solve the issue. ASEAN should work on that.”

ASEAN decided to invite a non-political representative from Myanmar to its 26-28th October summit, in an unprecedented snub to the military leaders behind the coup against Aung San Suu Kyi’s elected government.

Min Aung Hlaing said Myanmar wanted Asean’s special envoy, Erywan Yusof, to visit the country as agreed, but some of his demands were non-negotiable. He did not elaborate.

The NUG, a broad alliance of anti-coup groups that includes members of Ms Suu Kyi’s ousted ruling party, has backed the training and formation of militias called “People’s Defence Forces” behind attacks on security forces in several regions of the country.

The NUG recently declared a nationwide rebellion against military rule. The shadow government yesterday welcomed Asean’s exclusion of the junta leader but said the NUG should be the legitimate representative.

In Bangkok, Foreign Minister Don Pramudwinai said he believed there would be no problem between ASEAN and Myanmar but the matter (excluding a leader from an ASEAN summit) has never happened before.

Tanee Sangrat, spokesperson for the ministry, said Thailand is fully supportive of Mr Erywan’s mission to facilitate a sustainable peaceful settlement in Myanmar that is “Myanmar-led and Myanmar-owned”.

“Thailand believes that ASEAN’s unity is crucial to our collective voice and centrality, and will continue to be a main contributing factor in maintaining its solidarity pursuant to the true spirit and letters of the ASEAN charter as well as the aspiration of ASEAN’s founders,” he said.