Indonesia, Malaysia urge ASEAN to hold talks on Myanmar coup

JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) — The leaders of Malaysia and Indonesia expressed concern Friday about Myanmar’s military coup and asked the foreign ministers of Southeast Asia countries to hold a special meeting to discuss the issue to maintain political stability in the region.

“Indonesia and Malaysia take the political situation in Myanmar seriously,” Malaysian Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin said after meeting with Indonesian President Joko Widodo in Jakarta. “This is a step backwards in Myanmar’s democratic transition. We fear the political unrest in Myanmar could disturb the security and stability in this region.”

Myanmar’s military announced Monday that it will take power for one year, accusing leader Aung San Suu Kyi’s government of not investigating allegations of voter fraud in recent elections. Suu Kyi’s party swept that vote and the military-backed party did poorly. The state Election Commission has refuted the allegations.

Muhyiddin said he and Widodo have asked their foreign ministers to talk to the chair of the Association of Southeast Asia Nations to set up a special meeting of foreign ministers to address Myanmar’s political turmoil, including the issue of ethnic Rohingya Muslims who have fled from the Buddhist-majority nation to Bangladesh.

ASEAN’s members are Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam. Brunei is chair of the bloc this year.

Indonesia and Malaysia, both Muslim-majority nations, expressed concern about the Rohingya following the coup.

More than 700,000 Rohingya have fled from Myanmar since August 2017, when the military launched a clearance operation in response to attacks by a rebel group. The security forces have been accused of mass rapes, killings and the burning of thousands of homes.

“The Rohingya issue remains our concern,” Widodo said. “To realize the ASEAN community vision, it is important for all of us to respect the ASEAN Charter, particularly rule of law, good governance, democracy, human rights, and constitutional government.”

Muhyiddin’s visit is his first overseas trip since taking office last March.

Malaysia and Indonesia share many similarities in religion, language and culture.

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