Asean leaders to discuss crisis after Jokowi calls for summit

Going downstream: Balloons, used as form of protest against the military coup, floating along during Thingyan festival in Hlaing River, Nyaungdon. — Reuters

ASEAN leaders look set to convene an important crisis meeting on Myanmar on the weekend of April 24, just over a month after President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo called for the summit amid continued violence following the military coup.

The Indonesian leader had called for a high-level meeting on March 19, following an earlier informal meeting of Asean foreign ministers that saw an appeal to get the junta to stop the violence and open talks.

Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi said Jokowi’s proposal was supported by powers such as China and Russia, signalling Asean’s greater role in coordinating a response to the grim situation.

Both countries are veto-wielding members of the United Nations Security Council that previously blocked a call for sanctions against Myanmar’s post-coup regime amid rising tensions and a growing body count.

Last week, Brunei’s Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah, who leads the monarchy’s chairmanship of Asean this year, issued a statement asking officials to prepare for a meeting in Jakarta, where the Asean Secretariat is situated.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Teuku Faizasyah said officials were looking to convene the meeting on April 24, although he noted the final decision lay with the chair.

“We are still waiting on Brunei’s confirmation, ” he said on Thursday, adding that the timing could still change.

It is not yet confirmed whether the summit would feature representatives of the ruling junta or the former government.

The crisis is considered a litmus test for Asean, with the international community becoming increasingly frustrated over the junta’s resistance against calls to stop its bloody crackdown on civilians. — The Jakarta Post/ANN

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