Situation in Myanmar unending nightmare: UN chief
UN chief Antonio Guterres calls on the military junta in Myanmar to "get the democratic transition back on track."
UN Chief Antonio Guterres urged on Saturday the Myanmar junta to immediately return to democracy, saying it was the only way to stop the "unending nightmare" engulfing the country.
Myanmar has spiraled into bloody conflict since the military ousted Aung San Suu Kyi's civilian government in February last year, with thousands killed.
The escalating crisis dominated a summit of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) regional bloc, which has led so far to fruitless diplomatic efforts to end the bloodshed.
Guterres told reporters that "the situation in Myanmar is an unending nightmare for the people and a threat to peace and security across the region."
"I urge the authorities of Myanmar to listen to their people, release political prisoners and get the democratic transition back on track immediately. That is the only way to stability and peace," he pointed out.
After meeting with ASEAN leaders, the UN chief stressed that it was vital that a peace plan agreed upon with the junta -- but so far not enforced -- came into effect.
"Indiscriminate attacks on civilians are horrendous and heartbreaking," he expressed.
Residents and media on Friday accused the junta of burning houses and killing at least five civilians in a village in western Rakhine state.
The junta has previously accused "terrorist" anti-coup fighters of setting the fires.
In April last year, ASEAN agreed to a "five-point consensus" with the junta aimed at ending the conflict in Myanmar.
ASEAN leaders on Friday tasked their foreign ministers with coming up with a concrete plan to implement the consensus.
They also gave their blessing to an ASEAN special envoy meeting opposition groups in Myanmar.
US President Joe Biden's National Security Advisor, Jake Sullivan, said the President would discuss with ASEAN leaders "how we can coordinate more closely to continue to impose costs and raise pressure on the junta."
The junta has justified its power grab by making fraud accusations against the December 2020 general election, which Suu Kyi's party won. The generals have pledged to hold a fresh election next year, but the US and the UN's special rapporteur for Myanmar have claimed that there is no chance of it being free and fair.
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