ASEAN lawmakers urge Burma expulsion

(AFP) More than 100 ASEAN lawmakers on Wednesday urged leaders meeting in Vietnam this week to impose sanctions on Burma and consider its expulsion for ignoring calls for free and fair elections.

The legislators said leaders of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) at their annual summit Thursday and Friday should “urgently discuss” the election due to be held in Burma later this year.

In a petition to the leaders, the parliamentarians condemned election laws unveiled by Burma’s junta which have been criticised as undermining the credibility of the vote, the first to be held in the country for two decades.

Burma opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi’s party, the National League for Demoracy, has boycotted the poll over the laws, which would have forced it to exclude her from the party if it wanted to take part.

“With the promulgation of these apparently biased laws… the regime has forfeited its best opportunity to show willingness to engage in an inclusive process of national reconciliation,” the petition said.

The petition, endorsed by 105 members of parliament from Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines and Singapore, was sent to leaders by the ASEAN Inter-Parliamentary Myanmar Caucus (AIPMC), which lobbies for democratic reforms in Burma.

“As Myanmar [Burma] has thus far ignored ASEAN’s calls to reform… a new and more decisive course of action must be undertaken,” the MPs said.

“ASEAN should immediately enact strict and targeted economic sanctions against Myanmar’s military government.”

Burma should also be “immediately suspended from the grouping and its permanent expulsion earnestly considered” because it has failed to adhere to principles enshrined in the new ASEAN Charter, they said.

Burma has in the past escaped collective censure by ASEAN because of the group’s policy of non-interference in members’ internal affairs.

However, some ASEAN members have separately criticised Burma’s military regime and called for Aung San Suu Kyi’s release.

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