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Myanmar Opposition Welcomes ASEAN's Junta Snub, Wants Summit Invite

Anti-coup protesters hold signs that read "We Support NUG" that stands for ‘national unity government’ as they march on a street where vendors sell fresh products, April 17, 2021 in Yangon, Myanmar.

Myanmar's shadow government, formed by opponents of the ruling military, welcomed on Monday the exclusion of junta leader Min Aung Hlaing from an upcoming regional summit and said it should be the legitimate representative.

The opposition also said it would accept inviting a truly neutral alternative Myanmar representative, as decided over the weekend by the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

ASEAN will invite a non-political representative from Myanmar to its October 26-28 summit, in an unprecedented snub to the military leaders behind a February 1 coup against Aung San Suu Kyi's elected government.

The opposition National Unity Government (NUG), which has been outlawed by the military, said the non-political figure who attends the summit must not be a representative of the junta in disguise.

"ASEAN excluding Min Aung Hlaing is an important step, but we request that they recognize us as the proper representative," said NUG spokesman Dr. Sasa.

The decision was an unusually bold step for the consensus-driven bloc, which traditionally favors a policy of engagement and non-interference.

Brunei, ASEAN's current chair, issued a statement citing a lack of progress made on a roadmap that the junta had agreed to with ASEAN in April to restore peace in Myanmar.

A spokesman for Myanmar's military government blamed "foreign intervention" for the decision, which it said was against the objectives of ASEAN, the ASEAN Charter and its principles.

Myanmar has been in turmoil since the coup, which ended a decade of tentative democracy and economic reform. Thousands of its opponents have been arrested, including Suu Kyi.

Security forces have killed more than 1,100 people, according to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP), an activist group that has tracked the arrests and killings. The military has called its opponents terrorists.