ASEAN foreign ministers meet to select special envoy to Myanmar, name no one

New Delhi, Aug 2 (FN Agency) Foreign ministers of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations met virtually on Monday to select a special envoy to mediate among the military and the opposition and find a peaceful resolution to the crisis in Myanmar. The meeting was held a day after Myanmar’s top military commander Senior Gen. Min Aung Hlaing said that his government would accept the dispatch of the special envoy as agreed in April. Gen Min made the statement in a televised speech on Sunday, six months after the February 1 military coup that overthrew the democratically elected government of the Aung San Suu Kyi led National League for Democracy.

Of the three original nominees for the ASEAN special envoy, the general said, his government had agreed to select Virasakdi Futrakul, former Thai deputy foreign minister. “But for various reasons, the new proposals were released and we could not keep moving onwards,” he added ASEAN sources told Japan’s Kyodo News that Virasakdi has become the strongest candidate but no decision has been made as Indonesia has opposed the selection. Other nominees put forward include 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. A western news agency also quoting diplomatic sources reoported that Erywan Yusof, Brunei’s second minister for foreign affairs, was strongly favoured for the job.

The dispatch of the special envoy was one of five items agreed upon at an extraordinary ASEAN summit held in Indonesia in late April to discuss the situation in Myanmar. Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi in a televised media conference said the 10-nation grouping made no significant progress in resolving the political crisis in the Southeast Asian country. “There has been no significant progress in implementing the five points of consensus,” agreed in the Apr.24 meeting between the ASEAN foreign ministers on the crisis in Myanmar, she said. Retno also did not disclose who had been selected for the post of envoy, but asked the military regime to approve the envoy. The ASEAN, which groups Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam, follows a consensus based decision-making policy.