Indonesia president Jokowi calls for high-level Asean meeting to discuss Myanmar crisis

Indonesian President Joko Widodo called for democracy to be restored and violence to be halted in Myanmar. PHOTO: REUTERS

SINGAPORE - Indonesian President Joko Widodo on Friday (March 19) called for a meeting of South-east Asian leaders to discuss the crisis in Myanmar, as he urged for democracy, peace and stability to be restored and violence to be stopped immediately.

In a speech broadcast from the presidential palace in Bogor, West Java, the President said he would soon hold talks with Brunei Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah as chair of the Association of South-east Asian Nations (Asean), to discuss the possibility of holding a high-level meeting on the crisis.

Mr Widodo, better known as Jokowi, said Indonesia urged for "dialogue and reconciliation to be carried out immediately to restore democracy, to restore peace and to restore stability in Myanmar".

He also expressed his condolences to the victims and their families following the military crackdown against protesters following the Feb 1 coup.

"On behalf of myself and all Indonesian people, I would like to express my deepest condolences and sympathy to the victims and families of victims as a result of the use of violence in Myanmar," he said.

"Indonesia urges that the use of violence in Myanmar be stopped immediately, so that there are no more victims," he added. "The safety and welfare of the people must be the top priority."

Asean foreign ministers held an informal online meeting on March 2 to urge the Myanmar military to desist from violence and respect the will of the Myanmar people.

Unlike the United States and other Western countries, Asean has refrained from condemning the coup in its member state Myanmar owing to consensus as a key principle in its operations.

The meeting came after the shuttle diplomacy of Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi, who has said that Asean was ready to facilitate dialogue when required.

Mr Wunna Maung Lwin, the top envoy appointed by Myanmar's military regime after the coup, was present at the meeting.

Military and police in Myanmar have used increasingly violent tactics to suppress demonstrations by supporters of detained elected leader Aung San Suu Kyi, but that has not put off the protests, with crowds out again in several towns on Friday, Reuters reported.

The total number killed in weeks of unrest has risen to at least 224, the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners activist group said, noting another death in the commercial hub of Yangon and two in the cities of Monywa and Bago on Thursday, it added.

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