Asean envoy to Myanmar presses for more access

Asean envoy to Myanmar presses for more access

Brunei diplomat hopes to visit before late October and to meet Aung San Suu Kyi

Erywan Yusof, the Asean special envoy to Myanmar, speaks during an interview with Reuters in Bandar Seri Begawan on Saturday. (Reuters Photo)
Erywan Yusof, the Asean special envoy to Myanmar, speaks during an interview with Reuters in Bandar Seri Begawan on Saturday. (Reuters Photo)

BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN: The Brunei diplomat appointed as the Asean special envoy to Myanmar says he is still negotiating with the military on the terms of a visit and has sought access to ousted leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

Asean has been trying to end violence in Myanmar and open a dialogue between the military rulers and their opponents following the overthrow of the elected government in February.

The 10-country bloc last month assigned Erywan Yusof, Brunei’s second foreign affairs minister, to lead these efforts.

“There is an urgent need to go now to Myanmar. But I think before all that, I need to have assurances,” Erywan told Reuters. “I need to be able to have a clear picture of what I’m supposed to do, what they are going to allow me to do when I visit.”

Erywan wants to visit Myanmar before late October when Asean leaders are scheduled to meet, but said no date has been finalised.

“They haven’t put a condition yet but they haven’t been clear about it,” he said.

Requests seeking access to Aung San Suu Kyi have been made to the State Administrative Council, chaired by junta leader Min Aung Hlaing, Erywan said. But access to the deposed leader was not a specific requirement under a five-point consensus reached by Asean in April, he added.

The consensus included an end to violence and the start of peace talks among all parties.

“That’s the thing that I have been saying to the current authorities in Myanmar, I need to talk to all the parties concerned and that’s still under negotiation,” Erywan said.

A Myanmar military spokesman was not immediately available for comment.

Erywan said his consultations with the junta and other parties on the ground were “progressing quite well”.

He said he was looking to establish a team of advisers to support his role as envoy. The team could include Myanmar’s neighbours, including India and Bangladesh, he said.

When it took power, the military alleged irregularities in an election swept by Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy party in November 2020. The election commission at the time and international monitors said the army accusations were wrong.

The military subsequently appointed a new election commission which issued a report in July saying it had found as many as 11 million instances of fraudulent ballots, with irregularities in every constituency in the country.

The military authorities have also said their seizure of power should not be called a coup because it was in line with the constitution.

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