ASEAN Envoy to Myanmar Cancels Meeting with Ethnic Armed Organizations

By The Irrawaddy 18 March 2022

The planned meeting between the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) special envoy to Myanmar and the Peace Process Steering Team (PPST), a group of ten ethnic armed organizations (EAOs), has been cancelled.

The PPST was formed in 2016 to negotiate with the ousted National League for Democracy government. It comprises ten EAOs who signed the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement.

ASEAN’s special envoy to Myanmar, Cambodia’s foreign minister Prak Sokhonn, is set to arrive in Myanmar on Sunday to hold talks with the junta leadership in his first official trip as ASEAN’s emissary.

Prak Sokhonn was originally due to meet the PPST on Monday in the Myanmar capital Naypyitaw, but the meeting has been cancelled due to a tight schedule, said Colonel Khun Okkar, the patron of the Pa-O National Liberation Organization, a PPST member.

The secretary of the military regime’s National Solidarity and Peace Negotiation Committee, Lieutenant General Min Naung, sent a letter to the PPST on Monday informing them that the meeting would not be going ahead.

“Naypyitaw has informed us that the meeting has been cancelled. They said that the envoy has no time to meet us. He will arrive in Naypyitaw and meet the military chief [Senior General Min Aung Hlaing]. He will also meet political parties, and then return to Cambodia on March 23. They said that they are sorry that we EAOs can’t meet him,” said Col. Khun Okkar.

The PPST has now requested to meet the special envoy outside Myanmar. “We have told him that we can have a separate meeting outside the country either in Thailand or Phnom Penh. We have told him that he may appoint the time and place and we are ready to come. But he hasn’t replied yet,” said Col. Khun Okkar.

The colonel said that it is a priority of the PPST to protect and provide aid to displaced people in Myanmar, as clashes in the country are escalating and the number of refugees is increasing. The PPST therefore wants to discuss the supply of aid with the special envoy, he added.

Yohei Sasakawa, Japan’s special envoy to Myanmar and an advisor to the ASEAN special envoy, met with some EAOs, as well as the PPST, on March 10 in Chiang Mai in Thailand. At the meeting, the Japanese government promised to provide 50,000 sacks of rice to displaced people in territories held by EAOs.

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