In a televised speech on Sunday, Myanmar’s military ruler Min Aung Hlaing pledged to cooperate with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, or ASEAN, to bring an end to the country’s violence.
He further promised to hold multi-party elections, but did not say when exactly that would happen. In February, Myanmar’s army seized power from a civilian government, led by Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi after her ruling party won in disputed elections. The military called the vote fraudulent and branded members of Suu Kyi’s party ‘extremists,’ but the country’s electoral commission dismissed the allegation. Military authorities have faced near daily protests since the coup and a resurgence of armed conflicts in the borderlands. One local activist group estimated that armed forces have so far killed more than 900 people, with nearly 7,000 military opponents arrested. ASEAN foreign ministers will meet this Monday, as diplomats aim to appoint a special envoy tasked with promoting dialogue between Myanmar’s junta and its opponents.
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