ASEAN Summit 2022 and Myanmar: Signaling More Pressure for Domestic Changes?

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Not many days have passed since the 40th and 41st ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) summits were held in Phnom Penh, Cambodia on November 10-13, 2022. Led by the chairmanship and presidency of Cambodia and its incumbent ruler Hun Sen, member countries have discussed diverse issues ranging from regional integrity to global dynamics like post-Covid-19 recovery, the Ukraine war, the tension between the US and China, the rising inflation and so on. However, the most talked-about theme of the summit that hit the ‘top of the agenda’ was the Myanmar crisis. Although the Myanmar crisis dominated the summit, the seat of the country was found empty at the meetings. With a view to pressuring the leaders of the military regime to comply with the ‘Five-Point Consensus’ for peace, ASEAN kept away and outlawed the junta from partaking in any high-level summits and meetings which was undoubtedly a bold decision from the regional power bloc.

On April 24, last year, the leaders of the bloc and the Myanmar military junta chief, Sr. Gen. Min Aung Hlaing, had agreed to a “five-point consensus or plans” (5PC), which include– the humanitarian assistance of ASEAN to the country; an immediate termination of violence and suppression in the country; dialogue and discussions among all the parties; the appointment of a special envoy; and the visit and meeting of the envoy with all the parties. Initially, it seemed to be working and the military junta conceded to the plan but the effort was not satisfactory and could not make any difference at all. Rather, the chief of the junta flouted all the consensus and is continuing the vicious suppression and heinous crackdown against the people who oppose the military regime.

Considering such a crisis in Myanmar, during the summit, a split in opinions among the leaders has been palpable regarding executing and imposing more pressure and interdiction on Tatmadaw. While a facet of the leaders concurred to elevate the pressure on the junta to ensure peace in the country according to the newly-taken 15-Plan, some others are concerned with increasing measures against the country and its results in de facto suspension of membership in the bloc. In the meantime, the organisation is considering building up a new relationship with the NUG (National Unity Government of Myanmar), deemed as a successor group of NLD (National League for Democracy), which claims itself the legitimate government of Myanmar.

– Kawsar Uddin Mahmud is a Research Intern of the KRF Center for Bangladesh and Global Affairs (CBGA).

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Published in The Geopolitics [Link]