Indonesian president acknowledges ASEAN made no significant progress on Myanmar

Indonesian President Joko Widodo on Thursday acknowledged that the regional bloc has not been able to make any significant progress on conflict-hit Myanmar. 'Frankly, the implementation of the Five-Point Consensus (5PCs) regarding Myanmar which was agreed upon by ASEAN leaders in 2021, has not made significant progress,' Joko told the leaders of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). Popularly known as Jokowi, the Indonesian leader made these comments during a meeting of ASEAN leaders in the Southeast Asian nation's tourist destination of Labuan Bajo in East Nusa Tenggara province. Indonesia is the current chair of the ASEAN and the 42nd summit of the bloc's leaders began on Wednesday. The regional bloc has held several summits and meetings since the 2021 military coup in Myanmar but has stopped inviting junta representatives. According to details shared on his Twitter, Joko said the ASEAN leaders discussed two main issues including the implementation of 5PCs in Myanmar and the implementation of the ASEAN Outlook on wider Asia-Pacific. As chair of ASEAN, Joko said: 'Indonesia continues to strive for the implementation of the Five Points of Agreement by continuing to encourage inclusive dialogue, calling for an end to violence, facilitating the completion of joint needs assessments, and channeling humanitarian assistance.' 'Even so, the issue of Myanmar should not hinder the accelerated development of the ASEAN community,' he noted. Soon after the February 2021 coup launched by Myanmar's military, ASEAN issued the 5PCs, when Brunei was at the helm of the regional grouping. Urging a "constructive dialogue among all parties," the regional bloc said that doing so would involve seeking "a peaceful solution in the interests of the people." The military takeover triggered mass protests in Myanmar, with the junta forces killing more than 1,500 people in a crackdown on dissent, according to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners, a local monitoring group. While the protests have recently decreased, ASEAN's 5PCs called on all parties in the Buddhist-majority country to cease violence in Myanmar and 'exercise utmost restraint.' Under the 5PCs, ASEAN also provides humanitarian assistance to Myanmar through its Coordinating Centre for Humanitarian Assistance on Disaster Management, while its special envoy was assigned to undertake visits to Myanmar to 'meet with all parties concerned.' ASEAN backs dignified voluntary return of Rohingya In a joint statement at the end of the 42nd summit, the ASEAN leaders 'reaffirmed' their continued support for 'Myanmar's efforts to bring peace and harmony among various communities concerned and to promote inclusive and sustainable development in Rakhine State.' Noting that Myanmar and Bangladesh were working on the repatriation process of displaced Rohingya, the statement said: 'We also welcomed the recent diplomatic tour to Rakhine State from 8 to 9 March 2023 to observe the preparatory works done by Myanmar to kick-start the repatriation with a pilot project and reiterated the need to ensure safe, secure, and dignified voluntary return of displaced persons.' A group of Rohingya community members, along with officials from Bangladesh, paid a one-day trip to Myanmar last week. However, Rohingya members had expressed displeasure over preparations in Rakhine State. The ASEAN statement noted that Myanmar and Bangladesh will begin repatriation of the first batch of over 1,000 verified displaced persons in mid-May under the pilot project, and plan the repatriation of more than 7,000 refugees by the end of 2023. The ASEAN leaders, however, expressed 'concern about limited funding support to displaced persons' and called for concerted support by related multi-sector partners to achieve durable solutions.

Source: Anadolu Agency