ASEAN Envoy Sets Myanmar Goals

Cambodia's Foreign Minister Prak Sokhonn delivers a speech during the signing ceremony of the Instrument of Accession to the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation in Southeast Asia (TAC) by Ukraine, in Phnom Penh on November 10, 2022. Photo by TANG CHHIN Sothy / AFP

PHNOM PENH – ASEAN's Special Envoy on Myanmar has set out seven points aimed at progress in bringing peace to Myanmar.

These include pressure on all parties to compromise on their hardline positions and for ASEAN officials to get more autonomy in discussions on humanitarian aid.

The proposals are set out in the Report of the Special Envoy of the ASEAN Chair on Myanmar to the ASEAN Summits, which ended in Phnom Penh on Nov. 13.

The report says starting a political dialogue between the rival parties was the hardest aspect to resolve of the bloc's Five-Point Consensus.

“Even Myanmar’s key actors themselves also thought that it is not yet the right time to bring everyone to the table,” it says.

Preconditions for talks set by the junta were rejected by the rival National Unity Government, which demanded the army be put under civilian control and the imprisonment of junta leader Senior General Min Aung Hlaing.

The report was prepared as Special Envoy Prak Sokhonn prepared to hand over the role as Indonesia takes over the rotating Chair of ASEAN.

His suggestions were that the Five-Point Consensus should be accompanied by a concrete implementation and that conditions applied to the junta should be applied to all parties.

“ASEAN needs to press the State Administration Council, the National Unity Government and other parties to compromise on their preconditions,” the report says.

“Concerned parties need to be clearly identified and defined. Restoring normal engagements with Myanmar should be based on the progress of the implementation of the Five-Point Consensus, not on other factors that are outside this framework.”

It says also that the roles of the Special Envoy in humanitarian assistance should be added to the Five-Point Consensus or the implementation plan.

The Secretary-General of ASEAN and the AHA Centre coordinating humanitarian assistance should be empowered with an appropriate degree of autonomy for a specific period, it says.

Prime Minister Hun Sen said on Nov. 13 that Cambodia, as ASEAN Chair, had used a soft approach to solve the problem in Myanmar and did not intend to use a hard approach.

ASEAN wished to see all relevant parties negotiate as soon as possible. ASEAN's Charter did not allow for members to be removed. All ASEAN could do is to invite a non-political representative of Myanmar to attend high-level summits.

PM Hun Sen said Myanmar’s rights to representation in institutions will be reviewed if it does not cooperate.

Later, the Special Envoy welcomed the recent mass release of prisoners by the junta.

These included former minister Kyaw Tint Swe, former chief minister of Tanintharyi Region Lei Lei Maw; senior NLD figures; former UK ambassador Vicky Bowman and her husband Professor Sean Turnell.

The Special Envoy said the mass release was an important gesture to create a conducive environment for dialogue.

The Special Envoy's planned third visit to Myanmar will be conducted in the coming weeks with hopes of progress on three priorities of the Five-Point Consensus, ending violence, helping the delivery of humanitarian aid and building trust for an inclusive peace dialogue.

Related Articles