ASEAN proposes nominees for special Myanmar envoy to the junta

Jun 06 , 2021. 31 minutes ago – 21:36 KYODO NEWS

Myanmar’s military chief Senior Gen. Min Aung Hlaing arrives in Indonesia on April 24, 2021 to attend a summit meeting of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations. (Photo courtesy of the Indonesian Presidential Office)(Kyodo)

JAKARTA – The Association of Southeast Asian Nations has proposed to Myanmar’s military-led government nominees for a special envoy who would serve as a mediator in future dialogue between the junta and pro-democracy forces.

ASEAN Secretary General Lim Jock Hoi and Erywan Pehin Yusof, second foreign minister of Brunei, which holds the bloc’s rotating presidency, visited Myanmar on Thursday and Friday and submitted the names of the nominees proposed by ASEAN member states to the junta, according to a statement released Saturday. But it did not reveal the names of the nominees.

On Friday, the two officials met with Myanmar junta leader Senior Gen. Min Aung Hlaing in Naypyitaw to discuss the crisis in the country following last February’s military coup.

The dispatch of the special envoy was one of the five items agreed upon at an extraordinary ASEAN summit held in Indonesia in late April to discuss the situation in the country.

The five items also included the need for an immediate suspension of violence and humanitarian assistance from ASEAN.

During the meeting, Erywan Pehin Yusof, who serves as the chair of the ASEAN foreign ministers’ meeting, also called on Min Aung Hlaing and other Myanmar officials to release all political prisoners, which include women, children and foreigners.

It had been believed that the special envoy would be dispatched in mid-May, but the junta has so far shown little willingness to accept such a delegate.

Myanmar has said it will “give careful consideration to constructive suggestions” made by ASEAN leaders only “when the situation returns to stability in the country,” making arrangements for dispatch of the special envoy potentially tricky.

Since the overthrow of Aung San Suu Kyi’s civilian government, the junta has kept her and other prominent politicians in detention while using brute force against anti-coup protesters.

As of Saturday, 847 people have been killed by the country’s security forces since the Feb. 1 coup, according to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners, a rights group that keeps track of deaths and arrests in Myanmar.