ASEAN urged to take ‘decisive step’ by recognising Myanmar’s NUG

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) has been urged to “take a decisive step” to resolve the ongoing crisis in Myanmar by recognising the shadow National Unity Government (NUG) and demanding the generals who seized power in February immediately halt armed violence before agreeing to any talks.

In a news conference on Wednesday, Southeast Asian parliamentarians and Myanmar opposition representatives said the 10-member group should “stop siding” with the coup leaders, and instead engage with the NUG, which they said was the “legitimate” representative of the majority of the electorate.

The NUG is Myanmar’s shadow government and includes members of the parliament returned in the November 2020 election, as well representatives from the country’s different ethnic groups, including those fighting the military. It was formed after the February 1 coup.

Charles Santiago, a member of the Malaysian parliament and chairman of ASEAN Parliamentarians for Human Rights (APHR), said that while his group welcomes the ASEAN’s “unprecedented and significant” decision to exclude military leader Min Aung Hlaing from the annual regional summit, “much more needs to be done” to resolve the political impasse.

Santiago said that the credibility of ASEAN was at stake if it proved unable to put more pressure on the Myanmar military to “end its relentless violence” against its own people.

“The [Myanmar] military seems to have shown total contempt of the ASEAN Leaders’ agreement,” he said, referring to the five-point agenda agreed by Senior General Min Aung Hlaing and other ASEAN heads of states in April to stop the violence and take necessary steps to restore the country’s democracy.