ASEAN must show unity to address escalating Myanmar crisis, says Indonesian president

By Kate Lamb and Ananda Teresia

LABUAN BAJO, Indonesia (Reuters) – Myanmar’s ruling army has made no significant progress in implementing a peace plan agreed with ASEAN two years ago and the bloc must show unity in deciding how to deal with the escalating crisis, it said on Thursday the president of Indonesia.

Joko Widodo, who chairs this year’s Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), spoke on the second day of a leaders’ meeting in Labuan Bajo, where the “five-point consensus,” as Myanmar’s peace plan is known, be a key topic for discussion.

“I must speak frankly. On (the) implementation of the 5CP, there has been no significant progress,” he said. “Therefore, ASEAN unity is required to decide the next steps.”

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The army has been fighting on multiple fronts against ethnic minority rebels and militias in a growing pro-democracy resistance movement. Indonesia has been quietly trying to involve all parties in recent months.

Activists have condemned the military for its use of airstrikes and heavy weapons in civilian areas. The junta says it is fighting “terrorists.”

Myanmar’s junta has not been invited to ASEAN’s high-level meetings for failing to implement the plan, which its top general agreed to in April 2021 at a meeting in Jakarta.

ASEAN Secretary General Kao Kim Hourn told Reuters on the sidelines of the summit that the plan, which entails an end to violence, full humanitarian access and dialogue with all parties, will continue to serve as a basis for engaging board.

“We want to see a cessation of violence as soon as possible,” he said.

(Editing by Martin Petty)

Copyright 2023 Thomson Reuters.

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