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Hun Sen’s mediation efforts fall flat throughout powerful yr as ASEAN chair — Radio Free Asia

Cambodia’s longtime Prime Minister Hun Sen could also be a shrewd and ruthless politician however his chairmanship of the Affiliation of Southeast Asian Nations this yr has not enhanced his fame as a negotiator.

Even earlier than the ASEAN summit that opens on Friday, marking the closure of Cambodia’s tenure because the annual chair of the 10-nation bloc, Hun Sen is observing one other setback in his efforts to mediate in a world battle.

First it was over the civil battle in Myanmar, and now Cambodia’s provide to dealer a gathering between Russia and Ukraine on the sidelines of the summit in Phnom Penh seems to have drawn a clean, with neither chief from the warring international locations set to attend, in line with media experiences.

In January, Hun Sen drew criticism from human rights teams for making a private go to to Myanmar, the place he met with junta chief Min Aung Hlaing who seized energy in a February 2021 coup. He then despatched Cambodian International Minister Prak Sokhon to Myanmar twice as ASEAN’s particular envoy – failing each occasions to make Myanmar’s army decide to honoring a five-point consensus on the way forward for the nation that it agreed to at an ASEAN leaders assembly in Jakarta in April 2021.

As a substitute, there was an escalation moderately than an finish to violence in Myanmar. The junta has not held talks with the nation’s former civilian leaders and ousted State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi has been sentenced to 26 years in jail on what most unbiased observers say are politically motivated fees. Humanitarian teams complain that they’ve been unable to get support to the greater than 1 million displaced folks that the UN says have been compelled from their properties by junta assaults and the burning of their villages.

“Cambodia’s critics assert that Hun Sen gave legitimacy to the army junta by visiting that nation,” stated Carl Thayer, emeritus professor on the College of New South Wales on the Australian Defence Power Academy. He added that Hun Sen additionally overreached by sending Prak Sokhon twice “with nothing to indicate for his diplomatic intervention.” 

“Lastly, critics rounded on Hun Sen for issuing a press release on latest mass killings in Myanmar with out naming the responsible get together,” he stated referring to the junta’s bombing of a live performance in Kachin State, killing greater than 60 folks. 

“Critics argue now could be the time to make contact with the Nationwide Unity Authorities, the principle opposition group to the army,” Thayer stated. 

Hun Sen won’t get the chance to push the junta chief in individual since Min Aung Hlaing was not invited to the summit and requests by ASEAN for a non-military consultant to come back in his place have been ignored.

Sarah Cliffe, government director of the Middle on Worldwide Cooperation at New York College, stated the ultimate leaders’ communique on the ASEAN summit could echo the feedback of ASEAN overseas ministers who in October expressed impatience with the shortage of progress on the five-point consensus.

“ASEAN has a chance to guide on Myanmar – with the sort of regional management it took in persuading the then army junta to grant humanitarian entry after Cyclone Narghis in 2008 – however the time is working brief to indicate that the ‘ASEAN approach’ can ship outcomes,” she stated.

Cambodia will go the baton of the ASEAN chairmanship to Indonesia, amid hypothesis that Jakarta could take a more durable line with the junta, by setting a timetable for attaining the five-point consensus and pushing for direct talks with the shadow Nationwide Unity Authorities, Nikkei Asia has reported.

In the meantime, Hun Sen has turned Cambodia’s diplomatic focus as summit host to the Russian invasion of Ukraine. The Cambodian International Ministry stated the prime minister was keen to dealer talks between the fighters.

However Russian President Vladimir Putin determined to not attend the ASEAN summit and a few leaders objected to plans for a video tackle by Ukrainian Prime Minister Volodymyr Zelenskyy, which was cancelled this week, in line with Cambodia’s Khmer Instances. Putin is being represented in Phnom Penh by Russian International Minister Sergei Lavrov, Ukraine by his counterpart Dmytro Kuleba.

Whereas there appeared little prospect of diplomatic progress between Russia and Ukraine, as ASEAN overseas ministers met forward of the summit on Thursday, Ukraine was accepted as a signatory to ASEAN’s Treaty of Amity and Cooperation – a peace treaty established in 1976 that covers ideas resembling mutual respect for the sovereignty, territorial integrity and nationwide id of signatories. That is perhaps considered as a diplomatic comfort of kinds for Ukraine because it resists the Russian invasion.

The conflicts in Myanmar and Ukraine are nonetheless prone to be among the many predominant speaking factors within the ASEAN leaders’ summit that takes place on Friday – forward of further summit conferences with leaders from the US, China and different regional powers resembling Australia, India, Japan, New Zealand and South Korea.

Officers and analysts say different gadgets on the agenda shall be post-COVID financial restoration within the face of hovering inflation and provide chain disruptions; inter-ASEAN, regional and world commerce; local weather change; and regional safety and territorial disputes, together with within the South China Sea.

The sequence of conferences wraps up on Sunday with the official handover of the ASEAN chair from Cambodia to Indonesia, adopted by a closing information convention from the Cambodian chief.




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