Vivian warns of real danger that Myanmar could be headed for civil war

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PHNOM PENH - There is a real danger that the political crisis in Myanmar could turn into a civil war, given how there has been no progress on peace plans that the country had agreed to with Asean, said Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan on Friday (Aug 5).

His comments came after the regional grouping had, earlier in the day, published an official document registering its disappointment over the military junta's lack of commitment to implementing these plans.

"I have to be very frank. It's very dire. I think there is a real danger that the coup is sliding into a civil war. There's been no progress on the Asean Five-Point Consensus," Dr Balakrishnan said.

He was speaking to Singapore reporters at the end of the 55th Asean Foreign Ministers' Meeting (AMM) and related meetings in Cambodia.

The consensus was drawn up in April last year to bring an end to the chaos following the February 2021 military coup that has killed more than 2,000 people.

Its five points are: an immediate end to violence in the country, dialogue among all parties concerned, the appointment of an Asean special envoy to facilitate mediation, the provision of humanitarian assistance by Asean, and a visit by the special envoy to Myanmar to meet all parties.

Dr Balakrishnan touched on Myanmar's move to execute four activists last month, which went ahead despite appeals by Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen, in his capacity as Asean chairman this year, and Asean Special Envoy on Myanmar Prak Sokhonn, for the sentences to be reconsidered.

"In fact, the timing - the recent executions, or even the earlier bombing by the Tatmadaw (armed forces) - so soon after Prime Minister Hun Sen visits Myanmar, or the special envoy goes to Myanmar, reflects, actually, the high level of cynicism or even outright disrespect for the role of Asean," said Dr Balakrishnan.

In the joint communique agreed upon by all Asean members that is traditionally released after the AMM, the foreign ministers had proposed that its leaders take stock of the military junta's progress in implementing the consensus at their summit in November, in order to decide the best way forward.

"We can't interfere, but if they do not see that there is value in dialogue, national reconciliation and making use of Asean's good offices, then I'm afraid it's a very dire situation," he said of the Myanmar junta.

"How long will this go on for? I've he...

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