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ASEAN chair Brunei calls for 'dialogue, reconciliation and return to normalcy' in Myanmar

ASEAN chair Brunei calls for 'dialogue, reconciliation and return to normalcy' in Myanmar

File photo of ASEAN flag and flags of ASEAN member countries. (Photo: AFP/Romeo Gacad)

SINGAPORE: Brunei, the current chair of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) has called on Monday (Feb 1) for dialogue among parties, reconciliation and the "return to normalcy" amid the ongoing developments in Myanmar. 

This comes after Myanmar's military seized power in a coup and declared a one-year state of emergency.

Several Myanmar political figures, including State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi and other leaders of the National League for Democracy (NLD), have been detained amid escalating tensions between the country's civilian government and the military.

In an ASEAN chairman's statement, Brunei said: "We encourage the pursuance of dialogue, reconciliation and the return to normalcy in accordance with the will and interests of the people of Myanmar."

The ASEAN chair also said that member states have been closely following the situation, adding that "we recall the purposes and the principles enshrined in the ASEAN Charter, including, the adherence to the principles of democracy, the rule of law and good governance, respect for and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms".

"We reiterate that the political stability in ASEAN Member States is essential to achieving a peaceful, stable and prosperous ASEAN Community."

The Myanmar military said on Monday it detained Aung San Suu Kyi and other NLD leaders in response to "election fraud", handing power to military chief Min Aung Hlaing.

A presenter on military-owned Myawaddy TV made the announcement, citing a section of the military-drafted constitution that allows it to take control in times of national emergency.

He said the reason for takeover was in part due to the government’s failure to act on the military’s claims of voter fraud in last November’s election and its failure to postpone the election because of the COVID-19 crisis.

Live updates: Aung San Suu Kyi, other Myanmar leaders detained

Earlier in the day, Southeast Asian governments issued varying statements on the situation.

The Indonesian foreign ministry called on Myanmar to observe the principles of the ASEAN charter, including adherence to the rule of law, good governance, the principles of democracy and constitutional government.

It also urged restraint among all parties in the country and encouraged the use of dialogue to resolve challenges.

"Indonesia also underscores that all electoral differences be addressed in accordance with available legal mechanism," said the statement.

Malaysia said all parties in Myanmar should resolve any electoral disputes peacefully.

"Malaysia supports the continuation of discussion among Myanmar’s leaders to avoid adverse consequences to the people and state of Myanmar, especially in the current, difficult COVID-19 pandemic situation,” the Malaysian foreign ministry said in a statement.

Meanwhile, Cambodia's Prime Minister Hun Sen said the coup was Myanmar’s "internal affairs" and declined further comment.

"Cambodia does not comment on the internal affairs of any country at all, either within the ASEAN framework or any other country," said the Cambodian leader, who himself seized full control in 1997 from his elected coalition partner and whose party has been in power since.

Thailand's Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwan echoed the same sentiment, saying: "It's their internal affairs."

READ: All eyes on Myanmar army chief Min Aung Hlaing as military seizes power

The detentions on Monday morning took place after days of escalating tension between the civilian government and the military that stirred fears of a coup in the aftermath of the election.

Myanmar lawmakers were scheduled to gather on Monday in the capital Naypyidaw for the first session of parliament since last year’s election.

Aung San Suu Kyi. (File photo: AP/Aung Shine Oo) Myanmar

The 75-year-old Aung San Suu Kyi is by far the country’s most dominant politician, and became the country’s de facto leader after leading a decades-long nonviolent struggle against military rule.

NLD captured 396 out of 476 seats in the combined lower and upper houses of parliament in the November polls, but the military holds 25 per cent of the total seats under the 2008 military-drafted constitution, and several key ministerial positions are also reserved for military appointees.

The NLD party on Monday said its leader Aung San Suu Kyi called on the public not to accept a coup by the military and urged them to protest.

Singapore’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) on Monday expressed “grave concern” about the situation in Myanmar.

"We are monitoring the situation closely and hope all parties involved will exercise restraint, maintain dialogue, and work towards a positive and peaceful outcome," said a MFA spokesperson.

"Myanmar is a close friend of Singapore and key member of ASEAN. We hope that the situation will return to normal as soon as possible."

Source: AGENCIES/cna(aw)

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