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NEWS UPDATES Asean Affairs        6  May 2011

Asean deals with Myanmar issue

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The Myanmar chairmanship of Asean was one of the key issues discussed separately at the Asean Senior Officials meeting and the parallel Asean Civil Society Ogranisations Conference/Asean People Forum.

There were clashes of debates at the ACSC/APF between the Myanmar government -sponsored NGOs and the independent dissident NGOs during the three-day conference which ended Thursday.

The dissident NGOs have proposed the Asean seriously consider supporting the UN Committee of Inquiry on the grave human rights abuses in Burma and also deferring Myanmar chairmanship of Asean in 2014 due to its slow progress of democratization.

The dissident NGOs have also called on Asean to pay more heed to humanitarian issues of the refugees.

Their calls were ferociously debated by members of Myanmar's official NGOs.

At the SOM meeting, Kyodo reported that Singapore has suggested Burma get the chair in 2016 and allowed Malaysia to take the chair in 2014

However, the Thai delegate said Myanmar should have no problem taking the chair role in the scheduled timeframe of 2014.

Sources said Asean had in 2005 successfully postponed Burma chairman and agreed that it could resume the chairmanship whenever they felt ready.

At that time US and EU had pressured Asean not to allow Burma to get the alternate annual chair.

The Myanmar chairmanship is slated to be considered by the foreign ministers meeting Friday.

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