Asean Seeks Drop of U.N. Call for Myanmar Arms Embargo

Myanmar’s Southeast Asian neighbors are seeking a watering-down of a U.N. General Assembly draft resolution which includes dropping a call for an arms embargo against the country, Reuters reported.

The nine other members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, or Asean, said in a May 19 letter that the draft “cannot command the widest possible support in its current form, especially from all countries directly affected in the region,” Reuters said on Friday.

The Asean members said further negotiations are needed to make the resolution acceptable to the countries which are participating in efforts to improve the situation, the report said. An Asean spokesman didn’t immediately respond to requests by Reuters for comment.

Myanmar’s military has struggled to wrangle control of the country since the Feb. 1 coup due to a widespread civil disobedience movement comprising students, civil servants and even diplomats. The unrest has sent the economy into freefall, with persistent work stoppages disrupting business and foreign investors spurning the country.

Security forces have killed more than 830 protesters and arrested more than 5,400, according to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners. Following the coup, the army pledged to hold fresh elections following a state of emergency that could last as long as two years.

While the U.S., U.K. and European Union have put targeted sanctions on Myanmar’s generals and army-connected companies, Asean nations have largely avoided measures that would hit the military’s finances even while condemning the violence to varying degrees.

The junta in late April rebuffed a plan by Southeast Asian leaders to help end violence in the country, saying any “suggestions” would need to fit with its stated road map and come after “stability” is restored. Asean leaders, together with coup chief Min Aung Hlaing, had earlier appeared to reach a five-point “consensus” during a special summit that included an immediate cessation of violence and the appointment of an envoy by the bloc to mediate talks between all parties in Myanmar.

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