Myanmar had confirmed its absence from this week’s conference of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) on Tuesday, a day after the country’s ruling military criticised its neighbours for insisting on the exclusion of Myanmar’s generals from the gathering.
When asked about Thursday’s foreign ministers’ retreat, Chum Sounry, spokesperson for ASEAN chair Cambodia’s foreign ministry, responded in a text message to media: “There will be no representative from Myanmar, that has already been confirmed.”
It was late on Monday that the military, which had seized control in Myanmar a year earlier, declared that the bloc’s values were being violated by some ASEAN countries’ persistent activities in sidelining the army leadership and inviting only subordinate officials.
Myanmar’s refusal to join the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) is a setback for the region’s internationally backed diplomatic effort to bring an end to a conflict that has claimed the lives of hundreds of civilians, displaced more than 300,000 people, and prompted an exodus of foreign firms.
Cambodia has been urged to exclude Myanmar generals until they fulfil a promise made last year to end hostilities and allow the 10-member regional bloc to facilitate a peace process. Singapore, the Philippines, Indonesia, and Malaysia have all urged Cambodia to do so until they fulfil their promise.
Since October, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) has asked a “non-political” delegate from Myanmar to attend meetings, but the ruling military council has declined, claiming that it is the official authority.
ASEAN has not legally recognised the military government, which has been the target of international sanctions, including those imposed by the United States, the United Kingdom, and the European Union.
It is “inevitable” that Myanmar will not be ible to participate or even appoint a non-political representative at the ASEAN summit because “it is in direct conflict with the norms and practise of equal representation in ASEAN,” the country’s foreign ministry stated on Monday.
It stated, however, that it “will continue to extend constructive interaction” with all members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.