Hun Sen to travel to Myanmar in January, marking the end of its exclusion from ASEAN

Cambodia’s strong man has accepted an invitation from General Min Aung Hlaing, head of Myanmar’s ruling military junta since the 1 February coup. In October Myanmar was not invited to the ASEAN summit in Brunei, but now Cambodia is pressing to get it back in and reiterate the principle of non-interference in member-states’ internal affairs.

Phnom Phen (AsiaNews) – Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen, who will take over the rotating chairmanship of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) next year, has accepted an invitation from General Min Aung Hlaing to visit Myanmar on 7 and 8 January 2022.

The official announcement was made today in Phnom Phen, where Myanmar Foreign Minister Wunna Maung Lwin is visiting.

For days, overtures have multiplied towards the military who seized power in Myanmar in a coup on 1 February.

Hun Sen will be the first foreign head of government to visit Myanmar since the civilian government was overthrown.

The visit is politically significant for the whole of Southeast Asia since it shows rifts within the ten-member regional bloc over the situation in Myanmar.

After months of long wait-and-see, Myanmar was excluded from the ASEAN summit held last October in Brunei, a step motivated by its failure to comply with a five-point plan to which General Min Aung Hlaing had agreed in April.

The latter was designed to restore peace to the country, end the violence, and start constructive talks among stakeholders. Instead, nothing has changed. On the contrary, the military crackdown has intensified in recent weeks.

According to the opposition, more than 1,300 people have now been killed since the coup.

The latest tragic incident occurred last Sunday when five people were intentionally crushed by an army vehicle during a protest in Yangon.

Meanwhile, the first conviction of ousted state councillor Aung San Su Kyi was announced yesterday.

Despite this, Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen seems intent on getting ASEAN to go back to its traditional posture of non-interference in the internal affairs of member countries.

A few days ago, he made an explicit reference to this when he said, “Under the ASEAN charter, no one has the rights to expel another member.”