Myanmar people's wishes must be respected: Indonesian foreign minister


FILE PHOTO: Indonesia’s Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi delivers her speech during a press briefing with Japanese Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi in Jakarta, Indonesia, January 10, 2020. REUTERS/Ajeng Dinar Ulfiana/File Photo

JAKARTA (Reuters) - Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi said on Tuesday that Myanmar's transition to democracy after this month's coup should follow the wishes of its people.

Her remarks came after anger from anti-coup protesters to a Reuters report that Indonesia is pushing a plan for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to send monitors to ensure the junta holds fair elections, as it has promised.

Protesters want the elected government to be restored immediately. Some called on social media for demonstrations at Indonesia's embassy in Myanmar.

"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.

"Indonesia is very concerned about the situation in Myanmar and supports the Myanmar people. The well-being and security of the Myanmar people is the number one priority," Retno said.

She called for all parties to "deploy maximum restraint to avoid bloodshed".

Indonesia's foreign ministry declined to comment on whether it wanted the outcome of the Nov. 8 election to be respected, but a spokesman noted that Indonesian president Joko Widodo had congratulated Aung San Suu Kyi on her victory at the time.

It also declined to comment on the Reuters report of its plan, which calls for ASEAN to mediate between the junta and protesters.

Myanmar's military seized power on Feb. 1 after the election commission dismissed its accusations of fraud, after Suu Kyi's party swept the voting. The junta has promised a new election, but without setting a precise timetable.

The coup has prompted daily mass protests for nearly three weeks and strikes by many government workers.

Senior regional officials familiar with Indonesia's proposal for Myanmar said that holding the ruling generals to their promised election was the most realistic way of getting Myanmar on track to representative government.

Indonesia is the largest of the 10 countries in the ASEAN bloc, which also includes Myanmar.

(Editing by Matthew Tostevin and Gerry Doyle)

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