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Myanmar won’t be allowed to lead ASEAN IN 2026: Report

Manila: Southeast Asian leaders decided that Myanmar won’t take over the rotating leadership of their regional bloc as scheduled in 2026, Asian diplomats and a leader said, in the latest blow to efforts by its ruling generals to gain international recognition after violently seizing power in 2021, media reports said.

Western governments led by the United States have condemned the Myanmar army’s ouster of Aung San Suu Kyi’s democratically elected government in 2021 and have demanded her immediate release from years-long detention along with other officials.

The Philippines agreed to take over the regional bloc’s chairmanship in 2026 at an ASEAN summit hosted by Indonesia this week, Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr said in a statement, citing what he told fellow leaders in the closed-door meetings.

“It is my pleasure to announce that the Philippines is ready to take the helm and chair ASEAN in 2026,” Marcos told his ASEAN counterparts in Jakarta, the statement said. Marcos did not explain why Myanmar lost the prestigious yearlong ASEAN chairmanship.

Continuing deadly civil strife in Myanmar and new flare-ups in long-simmering territorial disputes in the South China Sea were high in the agenda of the 10-nation bloc’s talks on September 5. Myanmar’s generals will continue to be barred from attending high-level ASEAN meetings, Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi said.

Myanmar security forces have killed about 4,000 civilians and arrested 24,410 others since the army takeover, according to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners, a rights monitoring organization.

Image courtesy of (Photo courtesy: X@ASEAN)