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Burma moved one step closer to being handed the ASEAN chair for 2014 following months of speculation over whether ministers would give their official endorsement to the region’s most controversial government.
The Bangkok Post reported this afternoon that ASEAN foreign ministers had thrown their support behind Burma’s bid following a summit in Bali. Naypyidaw looks set to host the 2014 summit, which had initially been mooted for Laos before President Thein Sein put in a bid earlier this year.
Speculation has been mounting in recent months over whether the bid would meet with success, but Burma was given a boost last week when Indonesia’s foreign minister Marty Natalegawa said he had received “an overwhelming sense” from his regional counterparts that Burma should get the revolving chairmanship.
Yesterday members of the ASEAN Inter-parliamentary Myanmar Caucus (AIPMC) urged leaders not to endorse the bid, and instead push for more changes in the country, which has been ruled by a nominally civilian government since March this year.
It also criticised the Indonesian government for not putting enough pressure on Naypyidaw, the Jakarta Post reported.
Lily Chadidjah Wahid and Dadus Sumarwanto expressed dissatisfaction with current ASEAN chair Indonesia for its lackluster support of significant change in Myanmar.
“The government looks less committed to encouraging major reform,” AIPMC member Lily Chadidjah Wahid said. “Thein should release all political prisoners without reservation and pursue comprehensive reconciliation with all minorities.”
Correction: This article originally implied that ASEAN’s granting of the 2014 chair to Burma had been made official. This is not the case, and the article has been amended.