Southeast Asian leaders said they had agreed on a plan with Myanmar’s junta chief on Saturday to end the crisis in the violence-hit nation, but he did not explicitly respond to demands to halt the killing of civilian protesters.
“It’s beyond our expectation,” Malaysian Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin told reporters after the leaders’ meeting of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) that was also attended by Myanmar’s Senior General Min Aung Hlaing.
“We just stressed that the violence must stop. For him, it’s the other side that’s causing the problems. But he agreed that violence must stop,” Muhyiddin added.
ASEAN leaders wanted a commitment from Min Aung Hlaing to restrain his security forces, who an activist monitoring group says have killed 745 people since a mass civil disobedience movement erupted to challenge his February 1 coup. They had also wanted the release of political prisoners. “He did not reject what was put forward by me and many other colleagues,” Muhyiddin said.
According to a statement from group chair Brunei, a consensus was reached on five points – ending violence, a constructive dialogue among all parties, a special Asean envoy to facilitate the dialogue, acceptance of aid and a visit by the envoy to Myanmar. There was no mention of releasing political prisoners in the statement.
“He said he (Min Aung Hlaing) heard us, he would take the point in, which he considered helpful,” Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong told reporters.
“He was not opposed to ASEAN playing a constructive role, or an ASEAN delegation visit, or humanitarian assistance.”
But Lee added the process had a long way to go, “because it is one thing to say you will cease violence and release political prisoners, it is another thing to get it done”