New Asean envoy to Myanmar Erywan Yusof wants full access when he visits

BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN (REUTERS) – The Brunei diplomat appointed by a South-east Asian regional bloc as its special envoy to Myanmar said on Saturday (Aug 7) he should be given full access to all parties when he visits the strife-torn country, where the military overthrew an elected government.

Speaking a day after his appointment by Asean, Brunei’s Mr Erywan Yusof gave no date for his visit to Myanmar, whose civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi and other officials have been detained since the Feb 1 coup.

Mr Erywan has been tasked with overseeing humanitarian aid, ending violence in Myanmar and opening dialogue between the military rulers and opponents, whose protests and civil disobedience campaign have provoked an iron-fisted response.

“The planned visit to Myanmar is in the pipeline, and what we need to do is make sure we’re well-prepared when we go there, unlike the visit I had in June,” Mr Erywan, Brunei’s Second Foreign Affairs Minister, told reporters in Bandar Seri Begawan, the capital of the tiny sultanate on the island of Borneo.

Mr Erywan said he would seek a more substantive discussion, particularly on the cessation of violence, dialogue and mediation during the next Asean visit to Myanmar, while emphasising the importance for him to be given full access to all parties.

Myanmar civil society groups have rejected his appointment, saying Asean should have consulted opponents of the junta and other parties.

Mr Erywan did not mention a timeline for securing humanitarian aid, but said he hoped to garner the support needed for the effort.

The United Nations and many countries have urged Asean, whose 10 members include Myanmar, to spearhead diplomatic efforts to restore stability.

Myanmar’s military ruler Min Aung Hlaing, who has assumed the post of interim prime minister, this week pledged to hold elections in 2023.

His government says it acted within the Constitution to remove Ms Suu Kyi’s government, and objects to it being called a coup, and it also rejects the description of itself as a junta.

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