Indonesia says no regional consensus yet on Myanmar crisis

A convoy of cars makes its way during the funeral for protester Thet Naing Win, who died from a gunshot wound while taking part in a demonstration against the military coup last week, in Mandalay on Tuesday, February 23, 2021. - AFP

JAKARTA, Feb 23 (Reuters): Indonesia does not endorse new elections in Myanmar and is seeking opinions and regional consensus on how best to support the country's return to democracy, its foreign ministry said on Tuesday.

Indonesia's Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi has been rallying support in Southeast Asia for a special meeting on Myanmar after a Feb. 1 coup and sources said Jakarta proposed the region sends monitors to ensure the generals hold "fair and inclusive" elections.

A Reuters report on Monday detailing the election monitoring proposal sparked anger from protesters in Myanmar, some of whom rallied outside the Indonesian embassy in Yangon on Tuesday.

The proposal of sending election monitors to Myanmar is one of several pushed by Indonesia.

Others include facilitating dialogue between the junta and its opponents and setting up an Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) taskforce to support a roadmap to "democratic transition", the sources said.

Myanmar's ruling military council has said it would hold new elections and hand power to the victor, but has not set a timetable for the ballot.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Teuku Faizasyah said Indonesia's ideas were "not a plan of action" and new elections in Myanmar "is not Indonesia's position".

"We are searching for consensus and collecting opinions of the Asean ministers before a special meeting of Asean foreign ministers," Faizasyah said.

Indonesia would adopt the consensus decision by Asean states, he said. Myanmar is among Asean's 10 members.

Asked whether Indonesia supported the restoration of the government led by Aung San Suu Kyi, Faizasyah called on "the parties to find an amicable solution based on the rule of law".

Myanmar's military, which ruled the country for 49 years until 2011, seized power after election authorities rejected its allegations of fraud in the November poll, which Suu Kyi's party won by a landslide.

Protesters and human rights groups are calling for the immediate removal of the junta and release of political detainees, including Suu Kyi.

Earlier on Tuesday, Retno told Reuters that the wellbeing of Myanmar's people was paramount.

"The inclusive democratic transition should be pursued according to the wishes of the Myanmar people. Any way forward is the means to this end," Retno said in a message sent to Reuters by her office. - Reuters
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