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Myanmar bows to EU pressure over Asean chair

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Myanmar bows to EU pressure over Asean chair

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Military-ruled Myanmar has agreed to forego its scheduled chairmanship of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, Asean, next year – following pressure by the EU. Brussels and Washington had insisted taking the seat would be incompatible with the country’s current political situation. A military junta seized power in Myanmar in 1988. Although it held elections two years later, it refused to hand over to pro-democracy campaigner Aun San Suu Kyi’s party which won overwhelmingly. The country also has hundreds of political prisoners. The EU said Suu Kyi should be released from house arrest and Myanmar should move towards democracy if Rangoon was to chair Asean. Although the EU’s foreign affairs commissioner, Benita Ferrero-Waldner, welcomed Myanmar’s decision regarding Asean, Brussels says the need for democratic reform in the country is “urgent”. The EU had threatened to boycott Asean summits if Myanmar was chairman.