Asian envoy’s visits could signal pressure on Burmese junta to honor promise – benarnews
High-level envoys from the three Asian countries with the most influence in Myanmar have visited the conflict-torn country in recent days, raising hopes of new international efforts to pressure the junta to honor the commitments it made in April on resolving the political crisis triggered by a military coup.
Since November 12, Japanese Ambassador for Peace in Myanmar Dr Yohei Sasakawa, Chinese Special Envoy for Asian Affairs Sun Guoxiang and Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs of Thailand Don Pramudwinai have all led delegations. distinct in the capital Naypyidaw.
Sasakawa, chairman of the Nippon Foundation and Japanese government special envoy for national reconciliation in Myanmar, met with junta leader Snr. General Min Aung Hlaing on Saturday. The Japanese philanthropist left the capital on Monday morning for Sittwe, the capital of Rakhine state in western Myanmar, to meet with state officials and visit refugee camps for those displaced by the conflict.
Thai Deputy Foreign Minister Don Pramudwinai visited Naypyidaw on Sunday and met Min Aung Hlaing and junta Foreign Minister Wunna Maung Lwin before returning home later in the day.
Diplomatic sources told the online newspaper The Irrawaddy that “sensitive issues have been discussed,” including anti-junta activists based in Thailand along the common border of the two countries. Don Pramudwinai had met Wunna Maung Lwin in Bangkok after the February coup, but his visit to Myanmar over the weekend was the first by a senior Thai official since the takeover.
Chinese special envoy for Asian affairs Sun Guoxiang is currently in Naypyidaw, although it was not immediately clear whether he had ever met the junta leader.
The Irrawaddy reported that Sun planned to meet Min Aung Hlaing during his unannounced visit – his second to the Southeast Asian country since the military seized power in a coup on February 1st.
Although Sun’s agenda has not been made public, observers believe he could urge Min Aung Hlaing to implement the five-point consensus he agreed to when he and d Other leaders of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) met in Jakarta on April 24.
The agreement calls for an end to the violence, for dialogue between the junta and the fallen National League for Democracy (NLD), and for the special envoy and ASEAN delegation to travel to Myanmar to meet with all parties involved.
Deputy Information Minister Major General Zaw Min Tun, spokesman for the junta, told the Burmese service of Radio Free Asia (RFA) on Monday that the visits of the Japanese, Chinese and Thai deputy prime ministers aimed to strengthen bilateral relations and trade with Myanmar. , as well as for the promotion of peace and to help contain the COVID-19 epidemic in Myanmar.
Zaw Min Tun said the regime was working on the implementation of the five-point plan “to achieve lasting peace” and had no intention of preventing an ASEAN special envoy from visiting Myanmar.
“We will welcome them as long as the visit complies with previous agreements and [ASEAN] principle of non-interference in internal affairs, âhe declared.
Nine months after the February 1 coup, junta security forces killed 1,265 civilians and arrested at least 7,291, according to the Bangkok-based Association for Assistance to Political Prisoners. Numerous deaths and arrests have taken place during the crackdown on anti-junta protests.
The junta claims to have toppled the NLD government because the party staged its victory in the 2020 election through widespread electoral fraud, although international observers called the vote legitimate. Military leaders have yet to present evidence to support their claims and protests against the regime continue.
Hope for reconciliation
Observers expressed hope on Monday that the three diplomats would contribute to some sort of reconciliation in Myanmar following their visits.
Pe Than, a former member of the Rakhine State People’s Congress, told RFA that he hoped Sasakawa would be able to promote peace not only in Rakhine State, but across the country as well. .
“As chairman of the Nippon Foundation, he might be able to mediate between the two sides,” he said of the envoy, who visited Myanmar in 2020 and negotiated a ceasefire between the army and the Rakhine Arakan ethnic army.
Ye Tun, former member of parliament and political analyst, said that while senior diplomats from Japan, China and Thailand travel to Myanmar at the same time with their own agendas, their common goal may be to establish a dialogue between jailed NLD leader Aung San. Suu Kyi and Min Aung Hlaing.
âThe problem we have now is that Aung San Suu Kyi is the only person to negotiate with,â he said.
âIf they want to speak to Aung San Suu Kyi, the junta must first drop the charges against them. At a time when both parties face a dilemma, she would be the one to talk to to reach a mutually acceptable solution. “
Aung San Suu Kyi, NLD Chairman Win Myint, and other senior party leaders were arrested by the military shortly after the February coup and face a host of charges, according to critics, motivated by political considerations.
Ye Tun said the military is unlikely to allow international diplomats to meet with Aung San Suu Kyi at this time and does not appear willing to negotiate with her. Zaw Min Tun previously told RFA that it was not yet possible for a diplomat to visit the NLD leader as she faces various charges.
After Sun Guoxiang’s first visit to Myanmar at the end of August, he said he was refused permission to meet with Aung San Suu Kyi and was “surprised” by the junta’s firm stance towards him. , according to international media.
This report was produced by Radio Free Asia, of which BenarNews is affiliated.