Myanmar has ‘ingredients for civil war’: ASEAN chair

  |  Wednesday, January 5th, 2022 |  5:12 pm

Myanmar has “all the ingredients for civil war”, Cambodia, chair of Southeast Asia’s regional bloc, has warned ahead of a visit by Prime Minister Hun Sen to the crisis-wracked country.

Myanmar has been in chaos since a coup last year, with more than 1,400 people killed in a crackdown on dissent by security forces, according to a local monitoring group.

Hun Sen, whose country this year holds the rotating chairmanship of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) bloc, will visit Myanmar on Friday and Saturday in an effort to defuse the crisis, reports AFP.

But Cambodian Foreign Minister Prak Sokhonn warned the outlook was dire.

“The political and security crisis in Myanmar is deepening, and has led to (an) economic, health and humanitarian crisis,” he said.

“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) guerrilla warfare around the country.”

He was speaking at a lecture Monday organised by Singapore-based think-tank the ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute.

The event was held under the Chatham House Rule, which means the speaker must give permission before his comments are reported to facilitate candour.

Cambodia’s foreign ministry on Tuesday gave permission for AFP to report his comments.

Hun Sen, one of the world’s longest-ruling strongmen, on Wednesday called for a ceasefire, saying “all relevant parties must stop violence”.

“Whether or not we reach a deal in negotiations, I ask for a ceasefire first because it has the benefits to flesh and blood — don’t let people die or be injured,” he said at a ceremony in Phnom Penh.

Myanmar’s crisis has bad implications for “regional stability… ASEAN’s image, credibility, unity,” Prak Sokhonn added.

Nevertheless, he said Cambodia was making efforts to allow Myanmar’s junta chief to resume attending meetings of the bloc again.