BANGKOK – Myanmar’s military junta on Sunday (Aug 1) declared itself caretaker government of the embattled country, with chief Min Aung Hlaing named as prime minister.

The announcement will likely raise the stakes as Asean foreign ministers hold a virtual meeting on Monday to find the way forward in Myanmar’s six-month-old political and humanitarian crisis.

Although Asean has not officially recognised the junta, its representatives have been taking part in official Asean meetings. Similar access has not been given to leaders of the rival National Unity Government which includes elected lawmakers ousted by the Feb 1 military coup.

In a 50-minute speech broadcast over state media on Sunday, Senior General Min Aung Hlaing – dressed in a traditional jacket instead of a military uniform – promised to hold a “free and fair” election and lift the current state of emergency by August 2023. He claims the November 2020 election that re-elected the National League for Democracy (NLD) government was fraudulent.

The military chief also said: “Myanmar is ready to work on Asean cooperation within the Asean framework, including the dialogue with the special Asean envoy of Myanmar.”

Earlier, he appeared to have dismissed a five-point consensus on the Myanmar crisis hammered out by Asean leaders in April. The junta said it would cooperate with Asean only if the steps proposed complemented its road map.

 

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