WRAPUP 7-Indonesian foreign minister to visit Myanmar as pressure mounts on generals

The move emerged as the leader of the new junta called for energetic efforts to revive an ailing economy and Western countries considered more sanctions. A general strike shut businesses on Monday and huge crowds gathered to denounce the military's Feb. 1 coup and demand the release of Suu Kyi and her allies, despite a warning from authorities that confrontation could get people killed.

Reuters | Updated: 23-02-2021 21:45 IST | Created: 23-02-2021 21:45 IST
WRAPUP 7-Indonesian foreign minister to visit Myanmar as pressure mounts on generals

Indonesia’s foreign minister plans to fly to Myanmar on Thursday in the first known visit by a foreign envoy since the Feb. 1 military coup, a leaked government document said, as Western pressure mounts over a crackdown on protesters. Retno Marsudi will arrive in the capital Naypyitaw in the morning and depart several hours later, according to the letter from the Ministry of Transport dated Feb. 23 seen by Reuters, which an official said was authentic.

Retno has been rallying support in Southeast Asia for a special meeting on Myanmar and sources said Jakarta proposed the region sends monitors to ensure the generals hold “fair and inclusive elections”. The proposal was met with anger from some of the protesters, who are demanding the immediate release of elected leader Aung San Suu Kyi and recognition of the November polls won by her party.

Hundreds gathered outside Indonesia's embassy in Yangon on Tuesday to voice their opposition to the election proposal. The meeting in Myanmar prompted scepticism from some Twitter users and The Future Nation Alliance, a Myanmar-based activist group, said in a statement a visit by Retno would be “tantamount to recognising the military junta”.

The group demanded foreign officials meet with Htin Lin Aung, a representative of the Committee Representing Pyidaungsu Hluttaw (CRPH), formed by ousted lawmakers, who has been appointed the “sole responsible official for foreign relations”. “We strongly oppose and condemn Indonesia for sending a government envoy to Burma for official communications with the coup regime,” the statement said.

An Indonesian foreign ministry spokesman said Retno was in Thailand and may travel to other countries in the region afterwards but could not confirm which. Earlier, he said a new election was not Indonesia’s position. The move emerged as the leader of the new junta called for energetic efforts to revive an ailing economy and Western countries considered more sanctions.

A general strike shut businesses on Monday and huge crowds gathered to denounce the military's Feb. 1 coup and demand the release of Suu Kyi and her allies, despite a warning from authorities that confrontation could get people killed. The Group of Seven (G7) rich nations on Tuesday condemned intimidation and oppression of those opposing the coup. "Anyone responding to peaceful protests with violence must be held to account," group foreign ministers said in a joint statement.

'AILING ECONOMY' Protesters gathered again on Tuesday though in much smaller numbers. There were also small marches in favour of the military, media reported.

There were no reports of violence. Military chief General Min Aung Hlaing, in a meeting with his ruling council on Monday, called for state spending and imports to be cut and exports increased.

"The council needs to put its energy into reviving the country's ailing economy. Economic remedy measures must be taken," state media quoted him a saying. The army seized power after alleging fraud in Nov. 8 elections, detaining Suu Kyi and much of the party leadership. The electoral commission dismissed the fraud complaints.

The crisis raises the prospect of isolation and investor jitters just as the COVID-19 pandemic has undermined consumption and choked off tourism. Min Aung Hlaing did not link the protests directly to economic problems but said the authorities were following a democratic path in dealing with them and police were using minimal force, such as rubber bullets, state media reported.

The security forces have shown more restraint compared with earlier crackdowns against people who had pushed for democracy during almost half a century of direct military rule. Even so, three protesters have been shot and killed. The army has said one policeman died of injuries sustained during the protests.

The military has accused protesters of provoking violence but U.N. Special Rapporteur Tom Andrews said the millions who marched on Monday in a "breathtaking" turnout showed they were prepared to face up to military threats. "The generals are losing their power to intimidate and with it, their power. It is past time for them to stand down, as the people of Myanmar stand up," Andrews said on Twitter.

SANCTIONS European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell on Tuesday called for restoring the "legitimate civilian government", adding: "There, as everywhere, democracy must prevail

The European Union said it was considering sanctions that would target businesses owned by the army, but the bloc ruled out any curtailing its trade preferences to avoid hurting poor workers. "We are not prepared to stand by and watch," German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said in Brussels on Monday.

Singapore's central bank said it had not found significant funds from Myanmar in banks in Singapore but warned them to remain vigilant to any transactions with companies and individuals subject to sanctions. The United States imposed sanctions on two more members of the junta and warned it could take more action. It had already placed sanctions on Myanmar's acting president, several military officers and three companies in the jade and gems sector.

Myanmar's giant neighbour China, which has traditionally taken a softer line, said any international action should contribute to stability, promote reconciliation and avoid complicating the situation, media reported.

(This story has not been edited by Devdiscourse staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)


TRENDING

OPINION / BLOG / INTERVIEW

Addressing conflict-related sexual violence at long last

... ...

Why unequal access to coronavirus vaccines is a threat to us all

... ...

India’s love affair with fossil fuels: the path to sustainable development?

... ...

Videos

Latest News

Belgian police hit organised crime with hundreds of raids

Belgiums federal prosecutors office says a police operation of an unprecedented scale targeting organised crime is taking place across the country.About 200 searches mobilising more than 1,200 police officers are being carried out simultane...

OUP, Literacy India set up centre for upskilling women

A new education and skills development centre, set up in response to the impact of lockdown during peak COVID-19 months, aims at providing quality education to women to make them employable. The centre was launched on Monday by Literacy Ind...

Zack Snyder's 'Justice League' accidentally leaks in streaming mistake

In a major gaffe, streamer HBO Max accidentally uploaded filmmaker Zack Snyders version of Justice League on its platform in place of Warner Bros latest movie Tom Jerry.The incident happened on Monday when many users took to the social med...

Gadkari for digitalising SFURTI scheme

MSME Minister Nitin Gadkari on Tuesday suggested officials to digitalise the Scheme of Fund for Regeneration of Traditional Industries SFURTI as it would help in its faster implementation.The ministry is implementing the scheme to organise ...

Give Feedback