Sat, 18 Sep 2021

Naypyitaw [Myanmar], August 3 (ANI): Brunei's second foreign minister Erywan Yusof has emerged as the front-runner for the job of ASEAN special envoy to Myanmar to facilitate mediation among the stakeholders and to find a peaceful resolution of the political crisis in the country.

The discussion in this regard took place during the meeting of Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) foreign ministers on Monday, Kyodo News reported citing sources.

The ministers discussed a peaceful resolution of the situation in Myanmar where the military overthrew a democratically elected government and seized power six months ago.

However, the situation is in flux as to whether the Myanmar side agrees to accept Erywan's appointment, the sources said.

The sources said Indonesia strongly opposed the selection of Thai candidate Virasakdi Futrakul, a former deputy foreign minister and veteran diplomat who was publicly endorsed by Myanmar's junta leader Senior Gen. Min Aung Hlaing on Sunday.

Considering his closeness with Myanmar's ruling generals, however, he has been seen to be less likely to succeed in drawing a path to the return to civilian rule through dialogue with detained former leader Aung San Suu Kyi and others.

At Monday's meeting, Indonesia and Singapore had pushed for Erywan of Brunei, the current chair country of the 10-member ASEAN, the sources said.

After the end of the meeting, Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi urged Myanmar's junta to immediately approve the appointment of the special envoy.

She told reporters that even though the meeting had officially concluded, discussions were still ongoing in drafting a joint communique.

The minister said she lamented in the meeting that "no significant progress has been made" over the implementation of five points agreed upon at an extraordinary ASEAN summit held in Indonesia in late April to discuss the situation in Myanmar.

In April, leaders of countries in the ASEAN reached a consensus on five points at a summit on the Myanmar crisis.

These included an end to violence, dialogue between the military and its opponents, allowing humanitarian help, and permitting a visit by a special ASEAN envoy.

Other nominees put forward had included Hassan Wirajuda, a former Indonesian foreign minister, and Razali Ismail, a Malaysian who was a U.N. special envoy for Myanmar in the 2000s tasked with facilitating national reconciliation and democratization in the country, according to the sources.

On February 1, the Myanmar military overthrew the civilian government and declared a year-long state of emergency. The coup triggered mass protests, which were quashed with deadly violence in the country.

Earlier on Sunday, Myanmar's military leader Min Aung Hlaing declared himself prime minister of the country and said that he plans to be in charge for two years during an extended state of emergency before holding an election in 2023.

Meanwhile, 945 people have been confirmed to be killed since the military takeover on February 1, according to Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP). (ANI)

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