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- March 31, 2021 7:58 AM
ASEAN envoy fails to meet Suu Kyi
PHNOM PENH–Prak Sokhonn, Cambodia’s Foreign Minister and ASEAN special envoy to Myanmar, was unable to hold a hoped-for meeting with Aung San Suu Kyi during a two-day visit to the Myanmar capital Naypyidaw.
Before his visit, Sokhonn expressed a desire to meet dignitaries and stakeholders, including ousted state counsellor Suu Kyi.
However, he was not given the chance during the visit, overseen by the leader of the military regime, Min Aung Hlaing.
Sokhonn said on his return on March 23 that the reason he was given was that Myanmar law prohibits political prisoners from meeting foreign guests. He said the bloc would not interfere in Myanmar's internal affairs or impose conditions on Min Aung Hlaing.
However, Sokhonn shed some light on a possible solution to the crisis. In a meeting with Min Aung Hlaing, Sokhon reiterated ASEAN Chair Hun Sen's recommendation to seek opportunities to meet dignitaries and stakeholders and Suu Kyi to help resolve the dispute from all sides.
Min Aung Hlaing had said he would review and decide on providing an opportunity for the ASEAN Chair to meet stakeholders and Suu Kyi in the future.
“With this, General Min Aung Hlaing said that in the future he may consider the proposals made not only for Aung San Suu Kyi but also for others,” Sokhonn said.
“He said there will be consideration for the coming visits. Thus, it opens the window to shed light on the issue of dialogue with all parties concerned through the mandate of the special envoy and for the benefit of reaching a national reconciliation with the participation of all parties.”
Sokhon said resolving the crisis would not take just a day, a month, or a year, as civil conflict in this ASEAN member state had been going on for more than 70 years.
Sokhonn was due to meet Su Su Lwin, wife of former Myanmar President Htin Kyaw, who is close to Suu Kyi, to discuss the political situation. Unfortunately, Su Su Lwin tested positive for COVID-19, and the meeting was canceled.
He met only Ko Ko Gyi, a pro-democracy figure who had been imprisoned in Myanmar for 17 years and was well aware of the situation.
Sokhonn said that at the meeting he received a lot of ideas and knowledge about the political situation to present to Prime Minister Hun Sen.
In talks with Min Aung Hlaing, Sokhonn raised the five ASEAN consensus points on the crisis. The first was that all violence must be stopped immediately and all parties must observe the utmost patience.
Second, the parties should seek a peaceful solution through constructive dialogue for the benefit of the people.
Third, the special envoy should facilitate dialogue with the assistance of the ASEAN Secretary-General. Fourth, ASEAN provides humanitarian assistance to Myanmar through the ASEAN AHA intergovernmental organization. Fifth, special envoys and delegations must travel to Myanmar for talks with all stakeholders.
Progress had been made only on the cessation of violence, the ASEAN envoys' pursuit of dialogue, and the provision of humanitarian assistance, Sokhonn said.