Myanmar’s Junta Seeks Reintegration into ASEAN Amidst Regional Diplomatic Efforts

Thu May 16 2024
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NAYPYIDAW, Myanmar: Myanmar’s military chief engaged in discussions with top ASEAN officials regarding the junta’s potential reintegration into the Southeast Asian regional bloc, as reported by state media on Thursday.

Since the 2021 coup, Myanmar has faced isolation from ASEAN, despite being a member state. The Association of Southeast Asian Nations has spearheaded diplomatic efforts to address the conflict triggered by the military’s seizure of power, which has resulted in the displacement of 2.7 million people, according to the United Nations.

General Min Aung Hlaing, the army chief, convened discussions with ASEAN special envoy Alounkeo Kittikhoun and secretary-general Kao Kim Hourn in Naypyidaw, Myanmar’s capital. The dialogue focused on Myanmar’s cooperation within ASEAN, including the conditions for its participation in bloc meetings and the junta’s proposal for fresh elections. The talks underscored the complexities surrounding Myanmar’s role within ASEAN and efforts to navigate the ongoing crisis.

The Myanmar crisis has revealed divisions within ASEAN, with varying stances among member states. Indonesia, Malaysia, and the Philippines have advocated for stronger measures against the junta, while Thailand has pursued bilateral discussions with both the military leadership and detained democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi. Moreover, last year, Indonesian officials engaged in dialogue with a shadow “National Unity Government,” composed of ousted lawmakers, deemed a “terrorist” organization by the junta.

Despite the junta’s exclusion from high-level ASEAN meetings, there have been recent developments hinting at Myanmar’s gradual reengagement. In January, a senior Myanmar bureaucrat attended an ASEAN foreign ministers’ meeting in Laos, marking the country’s first participation in a bloc meeting in over two years. These diplomatic maneuvers reflect attempts to address the multifaceted challenges posed by the Myanmar crisis and explore avenues for reconciliation and stability in the region.

The military’s crackdown on dissent following the coup has resulted in significant casualties and arrests, with over 5,000 fatalities and more than 26,000 individuals detained, according to local monitoring groups. The coup d’état abruptly ended Myanmar’s democratic experiment, plunging the nation into a state of turmoil. Amidst ongoing hostilities between the junta and ethnic minority armed groups, as well as pro-democracy forces, Myanmar grapples with deep-rooted political and social unrest, presenting complex challenges for both domestic and regional actors.











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