Saturday, May 7, 2011

ASEAN foreign ministers to endorse 2014 Myanmar chairmanship

Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) leaders join hands for a group photo during the opening ceremony of the 18th ASEAN Summit in Jakarta May 7, 2011. From L-R, Philippines President Benigno Aquino, Singapore's senior minister Professor S. Jayakumar, Thailand's Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva, Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung, Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen, Brunei's Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah, Laos Prime Minister Thongsing Thammavong, and Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak. Not in the picture is Myanmar Prime Minister Thein Sein.
JAKARTA, Indonesia - Foreign ministers of member-states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations will endorse Friday the chairmanship of military-ruled Myanmar for the 2014 summit of the 10-nation regional bloc.

“We have agreed to recommend Myanmar’s chairmanship to the leaders,” Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario said in an interview here.

Myanmar has asked to switch its turn with Laos and serve as ASEAN chair in 2014.

Earlier, Human Rights Watch deputy director for Asia Elaine Pearson challenged President Benigno Aquino III to take the lead in opposing Myanmar’s bid for chairmanship over serious human rights violations by that country’s ruling junta.

Pearson said Aquino was among the few ASEAN leaders who did not view Myanmar’s November elections as genuine democratic reform.

“President Benigno Aquino III should spearhead an ASEAN strategy for bringing about real human rights improvements in Burma,” Pearson said.

Indonesian Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa said he did not think ASEAN leaders would arrive at a decision during the two-day summit.

“I feel it is not a matter that will be decided here and now, but perhaps there will a process to ascertain the readiness of Myanmar to assume the chairmanship in 2014,” Marty said.

Marty said he will visit Myanmar soon to assess the political situation as well as human rights climate in that country.

The chairmanship of ASEAN is rotated annually on an alphabetical basis.

Myanmar skipped its turn as chair in 2006 because of international pressure for democratic reforms.