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The Philippines replaces Myanmar as Chair of ASEAN for 2026

TEMPO.CO , Jakarta – Indonesian Minister of Foreign Affairs Retno Marsudi said that the Philippines will serve as chairman of ASEAN in 2026 replacing Myanmar, a country which is currently still in the midst of a crisis.

“Everything must be confirmed now, and we have confirmed that the 2026 chairmanship will be held by the Philippines,” said Retno when met by journalists after the ASEAN Summit retreat session in Jakarta on Tuesday, September 5 2023.

Myanmar has been hit by violence and economic chaos since the military seized power in a coup in 2021. The Tatmadaw, the country’s military, launched a crackdown on its opponents.

Initially President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. , at the ASEAN Summit on Tuesday, announced that the Philippines was ready for the bloc in 2026. “We will strengthen our community-building foundations and navigate ASEAN as the country begins a new chapter,” he said without giving reasons for accepting the chairmanship, according to a statement from Presidential palace.

ASEAN Chair is determined by alphabetical order of membership names. Next year Laos will fill this position and 2025 will be Malaysia’s turn. Meanwhile, if according to the rules, Myanmar will indeed take office in 2026.

ASEAN, since the end of 2021, has banned the Myanmar junta from attending high-level meetings until it can be seen that there has been significant progress in resolving the crisis known as the five points of consensus. At this week’s meeting, there was no Myanmar representative either at the ASEAN summit or the foreign ministers meeting.

Director of ASEAN Cooperation at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Sidharto Suryodipuro said that the Philippines’ position to replace Myanmar in 2026 was a bloc decision based on the initiative of Indonesia, as chairman this year. 

He admitted that he had not heard a response from parties in Myanmar, but said that there had been communication after the decision was taken, including with the military junta. “This is ASEAN’s decision, not a decision from any one party in Myanmar,” said Sidaharto when met by journalists on Tuesday, September 5 2023.

Source : tempo.co