BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN, October 26 (Reuters) – Southeast Asian leaders begin their annual summit on Tuesday without Burmese military leader Min Aung Hlaing, who toppled a civilian government on February 1, in a rare exclusion for the regional group generally known for interference.
US President Joe Biden will attend a joint session via video link, but it was likely that no one would represent Myanmar at the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) summit.
Summit host Brunei said the bloc will invite an apolitical representative from Myanmar, but there has been no confirmation of who it might be.
Myanmar’s foreign ministry said on Monday evening it would only agree with its head of state or ministerial representative, saying its seat would be empty at the summit.
ASEAN foreign ministers decided on October 15 to oust Min Aung Hlaing, who toppled a government led by Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi.
The ministers cited the junta leader’s failure to implement an ASEAN peace plan, which included ending hostilities, opening dialogue, authorizing humanitarian aid and granting to a special envoy with full access to the country.
Since the overthrow of Suu Kyi’s government, his detention and most of his allies, and the end of a decade of attempted democracy, the Burmese military has killed more than 1,000 people and arrested thousands, according to the report. monitoring group of the Association for Assistance to Political Prisoners.
The junta’s disputes are seen as exaggerated and claim that soldiers have been killed in nationwide fighting with armed opposition groups.
Myanmar’s junta released a statement on Monday evening saying it had informed this year’s ASEAN President Brunei that it could only “accept the participation of the head of state or head of government or of its representative at ministerial level “at the top.
He added that Myanmar would “pursue due process” under the bloc’s charter to resolve the dispute over attendance at ASEAN summits.
On Tuesday’s opening day agenda were three separate meetings between ASEAN leaders and representatives from the United States, China and South Korea.
Biden will lead the US delegation to the ASEAN-US summit, the US embassy in Brunei said.
ASEAN includes Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.
Reporting by Ain Bandial in Bandar Seri Begawan, written by Kay Johnson, edited by Timothy Heritage and Michael Perry
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