Myanmar – The Myanmar junta turned down a request from a regional special envoy to meet with a group of expelled MPs, which it had labeled a terrorist organization, on Sunday, as part of efforts to break a year-long political impasse since the coup.
Since the putsch in February 2021, Myanmar has been in disarray, its economy has been paralyzed, and at least 1,500 people have been slain in a military crackdown, according to a local monitoring group.
The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), a 10-country grouping, has been at the forefront of diplomatic attempts to settle the crisis, which sparked enormous rallies and a savage crackdown on dissent that resulted in the imprisonment of 12,000 people.
The new Asean special envoy to Myanmar, Cambodian Foreign Minister Prak Sokhonn, told a meeting of the bloc’s foreign ministers on Thursday that he intended to visit Myanmar in March and speak with key junta officials.
He has also attempted to meet with members of a “National Unity Government” headed by parliamentarians from Aung San Suu Kyi’s ousted party, which is attempting to topple the junta, with Malaysian support.
Myanmar’s Foreign Ministry said late Sunday that it will pursue “constructive collaboration with Asean, including the special envoy,” in a statement.
It could not, however, consent to the special envoy working with “illegal organizations and terrorist organisations” that were “committing acts of violence and following a whole destructive course.”
The idea was “contrary to the values of the Asean charter” and “undermines Asean’s counter-terrorism operations,” according to the Ministry.
“The Ministry recommends the two members to refrain from making such statements on Asean forums and encourages (them) to denounce terrorist crimes,” the statement stated.
The junta designated the NUG “terrorists” in May of last year and imprisoned numerous high-ranking members of Suu Kyi’s party.
The majority of NUG members are in exile or hiding, and Prak Sokhonn provided no information on where or when a subsequent gathering would take place.
Due to a lack of progress in defusing violence, Myanmar’s senior diplomat was prohibited from Thursday’s meeting in Phnom Penh, but Prak Sokhonn said junta officials were able to listen in on conversations.