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38th ASEAN leaders’ summit closes today


38th ASEAN leaders’ summit closes today

38th ASEAN
Photo: ASEAN Summit 2021 Host Photo

The annual Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) leaders’ summit closes today.

The fraught political situation in Myanmar was a key aspect of the agenda, but Myanmar’s junta chief—General Min Aung Hlaing—was intentionally excluded by ASEAN leaders.

General Min seized control  of Myanmar by military coup in February, deposing President Aung San Suu Kyi. The takeover was spurred by Min’s military party losing last November’s elections and has been perpetrated through the junta’s use of violent crackdowns.

ASEAN, the US and EU have all tried to stabilize Myanmar by imposing sanctions and freezing military assets but have not succeeded. Yet it seemed the junta government was willing to engage in an international dialogue until last week, when they prevented ASEAN’s Special Envoy Erywan Yusof from meeting with Suu Kyi. This action is what then prompted ASEAN to ban Min Aung Hlaing.

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Despite the exclusion of Min Aung Hlaing, ASEAN remains divided over what concrete steps to take next. The international community will likely continue to apply external pressure to the junta government. However, this pressure has yet to disrupt the junta’s control of Myanmar domestically and is unlikely to create any real change.

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