Myanmar junta opposes ASEAN engagement with NUG shadow govt

RFA Burmese
Myanmar junta opposes ASEAN engagement with NUG shadow govt Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi gestures during a news conference in Jakarta, Oct. 27, 2022.

Myanmar’s military junta has warned ASEAN not to interfere with its internal matters after the regional bloc signaled it could include the country’s shadow National Unity Government, or NUG, in negotiations to deal with the post-coup crisis there.

During a news conference on Wednesday, Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi pledged that as ASEAN chair her nation would establish a special envoy’s office and work according to the five-point consensus, or 5PC. She was referring to the bloc’s plan for putting Myanmar back on a democratic path, which analysts have termed a failure. 

“Only through engagement with all stakeholders, can the 5PC mandate regarding facilitation for the creation of a national dialogue be carried out,” said Retno, seemingly referring to the NUG.

In a press release, the junta’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs responded by saying that it would implement the five-point consensus “in line with the fundamental principles of upholding its national interest, sovereignty and non-interferences of the internal affairs of the member states.”

The junta also warned ASEAN not to “engage with any terrorist groups and unlawful associations [recognized] by the Government of Myanmar,” but did not mention any particular group in the release.

Myanmar’s military, which toppled an elected government on Feb. 1, 2021, reneged on the consensus that it had “agreed to” in April that year. The agreement was meant to be a roadmap to restore peace and democracy in Myanmar.

The consensus called for an end to violence, the provision of humanitarian assistance, the appointment of an ASEAN special envoy, dialogue between all stakeholders and mediation by the envoy.

Since the coup, the Burmese junta has carried out a widespread campaign of torture, arbitrary arrests and attacks targeting civilians, the United Nations and human rights groups have said.

More than 2,700 people have been killed and more than 17,000 have been arrested in the nearly two years since, according to the Thailand-based Assistance Association for Political Prisoners.

Many regional observers and analysts, as well as the previous foreign minister of Malaysia, have said it is time to junk the consensus and devise a new plan on a deadline that includes enforcement mechanisms.

On Monday, Indonesian President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo and Malaysian Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim reversed course and said the five-point consensus remains the best route to resolving the crisis in Myanmar.

Radio Free Asia (RFA), a news service affiliated with BenarNews, produced this report.


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