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ASEAN Conference on Myanmar crisis to begin

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ASEAN Conference on Myanmar crisis to begin

ASEAN Nations Flags in Jakarta 2
Photo: Gunawan Kartapranata

Myanmar’s military junta leader Senior General Min Aung Hlaing will attend a summit today in Jakarta with leaders from the Association for Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to discuss Myanmar’s deteriorating political crisis.

ASEAN leaders face several constraints in structuring today’s discussion due to the organization’s non-interference doctrine. ASEAN leaders expect de-escalation of the crackdowns and the delivery of a humanitarian mission. If ASEAN demonstrates strong criticism of the coup or an intention of engaging the newly-formed National Unity Government (NUG) in discussing Myanmar’s situation, Hlaing may accuse ASEAN of interfering in Myanmar’s internal affairs. However, the absence of any representatives from the NUG at the leaders’ summit is likely to exacerbate fears that ASEAN is legitimizing the junta. Additionally, ASEAN leaders have remained split over the crisis. While Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore have called for an end to the violence, Thailand and Cambodia have treated the coup as an internal crisis.

If ASEAN’s divided reactions to the coup persist, the meeting will not pressure Hlaing to reduce the severity of the violence in Myanmar. Instead, the summit may only bring the junta to future negotiations with ASEAN and third parties, such as the UN, to discuss humanitarian support.

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