ASEAN appoints Brunei diplomat as special envoy to Myanmar

Appointment of envoy included 5-point consensus agreed by ASEAN leaders to end dispute

JAKARTA, Indonesia (AA) – The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) on Wednesday agreed to appoint senior Brunei diplomat Erywan Yusof as special envoy to Myanmar.

“Erywan will begin his duties in Myanmar to build trust and confidence with full access to all parties concerned,” said the foreign ministers of ASEAN members in a joint communique released after their annual meeting.

The appointment of a special envoy was included in a five-point consensus agreed upon at an extraordinary ASEAN meeting held in Indonesia in late April to restore stability in Myanmar, but was delayed for months amid deep divisions within the bloc.

The special envoy has been tasked with ending violence in Myanmar by opening dialogue between the military rulers and their opponents in the crisis-torn country.

Plans are also underway for ASEAN to provide and oversee humanitarian assistance to Myanmar through the ASEAN Coordinating Center for Humanitarian Assistance on Disaster Management (AHA Center), its intergovernmental aid agency.

“We encourage the AHA Center to immediately begin formulating policy guidance for the implementation of the Five-Point Consensus,” said the communique.

‘Not an acknowledgement of Myanmar junta’

ASEAN has been accused of conferring legitimacy on Myanmar’s junta, which toppled the civilian government in February, by accepting its representatives at the group’s meetings.

Indonesia, however, highlighted subtle changes in the wording in the joint communique that it argues resolves this issue, revising the beginning of each official document at the ministerial level as “the meeting,” instead of “the ministers.”

“So that it cannot be seen as an acknowledgment of the military junta,” Director-General of ASEAN Cooperation of the Indonesian Ministry of Foreign Affairs Sidharto R. Suryodipuro explained in a virtual press conference on Wednesday.

On Feb. 1, Myanmar’s military overthrew the elected government of Aung San Suu Kyi, detained her and other leaders of the ruling National League for Democracy, then cracked down with lethal force on anti-coup protesters.

At least 946 people have been killed by Myanmar authorities since the February coup, many in anti-government protests, according to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners.

So far, around 7,000 people have been arrested, while 5,478 people are still detained.


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