Asean appoints Brunei foreign minister to mediate Myanmar coup crisis
JAKARTA — Asean foreign ministers agreed on Wednesday to appoint Erywan Yusof as their special envoy to Myanmar, tasked with mediating among “all parties” and finding a peaceful solution to the political and humanitarian crisis in the country, according to the group’s joint communiqué.
The bloc has for months struggled to name a mediator following a mandate by the region’s leaders in April under the so-called Five-Point Consensus.
Subsequent consultations leading up to the AAsean Ministerial Meeting (AMM) on Monday have come up short, particularly after junta leader Min Aung Hlaing pushed against a nominee that was previously not tabled. But a breakthrough was made and finalized in the group’s communiqué – a negotiated document outlining the region’s common stance on various issues – that was issued on Wednesday.
“We welcomed the appointment by the Asean chair for the Minister of Foreign Affairs II of Brunei Darussalam to be the special envoy of the Asean chair on Myanmar, who will start his work in Myanmar, including building trust and confidence with full access to all parties concerned and providing a clear timeline on the implementation of the Five-Point Consensus before the Asean foreign ministers’ meeting,” Asean ministers said in the communiqué.
The ministers also “expressed concern over the situation” in Myanmar, “heard calls for the release of political detainees including foreigners” and welcomed the junta’s “acceptance for the timely and complete implementation of the Five-Point Consensus”.
Erywan’s appointment was reportedly brought up at the last minute in Monday’s online meeting when the nine foreign ministers and a Myanmar junta representative discussed a peaceful resolution of the dire situation there that followed the military coup six months ago.
At the meeting, Indonesia and Singapore pushed for Erywan of Brunei, the current chair country of the 10-member bloc, Japan’s news agency Kyodo reported.
Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno LP Marsudi urged the military regime to accept the Asean proposal in a statement made after the ministerial meeting.
Plans are also underway for the bloc to provide humanitarian assistance through the Asean Coordinating Centre for Humanitarian Assistance (AHA Center), its intergovernmental aid agency.
The junta has been cracking down on protests since the Feb. 1 putsch, but a surge in COVID-19 infections in the past month has sped up an economic collapse and battered the country’s healthcare system, turning the previously political crisis into a dire humanitarian one.
Close to 1,000 people have died from the crackdown so far, according to a Thai-based rights monitor.
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