Myanmar has “all the ingredients for a civil war,” warned Cambodia, president of the Southeast Asian regional bloc, ahead of Prime Minister Hun Sen’s visit to the country in crisis.
Myanmar has been in chaos since last year’s coup, with more than 1,400 people killed in a crackdown on dissent by security forces, according to a local watch group.
Hun Sen, whose country holds the rotating presidency of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) bloc this year, will visit Myanmar on January 7 and 8 in a bid to defuse the crisis.
But Cambodian Foreign Minister Prak Sokhonn warned the outlook was dire.
“The political and security crisis in Myanmar is worsening and has led to [an] economic, health and humanitarian crisis ”, he declared.
“We feel that all the ingredients for civil war are now on the table. There are now two governments, there are several armed forces, people are undergoing what they call the civil disobedience movement and [there is] guerrillas all over the country. “
Prak Sokhonn dismisses criticism that Hun Sen’s visit legitimizes junta
He was speaking at a conference on January 3 hosted by Singapore-based think tank ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute.
The event was conducted under Chatham House rule which means the speaker must give permission before their comments are flagged to facilitate frankness.
The Cambodian foreign ministry on January 4 authorized AFP to report his remarks.
Prak Sokhonn dismissed criticism that Hun Sen’s visit legitimized the junta and said “the kingdom’s immediate attention is on improving the situation in Myanmar.”
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Efforts will remain focused on a road map for peace and the “five-point consensus” agreed by ASEAN leaders last year, he said.
The visit aims “to pave the way for progress” by “creating an environment conducive to inclusive dialogue and political trust between all parties concerned”.
Since the coup, there have been few signs of progress.
The visit of an ASEAN special envoy to Myanmar was delayed after the junta refused to allow him to meet with deposed civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi.
In response, the bloc excluded the Burmese junta leader from a high-level summit in October, a rare reprimand from a group often criticized for his toothlessness.
Myanmar’s crisis has bad implications for “regional stability … ASEAN’s image, credibility, unity,” added Prak Sokhonn.
Nonetheless, he said Cambodia was making efforts to allow the Burmese junta leader to resume participation in the bloc’s meetings.
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