JAKARTA, INDONESIA — Indonesian President Joko Widodo on Tuesday said a resolution to the Myanmar crisis that has dragged into its third year needed “political will” from all sides of the conflict, as divided Southeast Asian nations step up diplomatic efforts.
The country has been ravaged by violence in the two years since civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi was deposed in a coup and hit with 19 criminal cases ranging from corruption to breaching COVID-19 rules.
“We are aware the situation in Myanmar is still full of challenges. We must also realise this situation can only be resolved if there is political will from all parties,” he told an anniversary event for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).
The Indonesian leader told foreign dignitaries the 10-member bloc, which includes Myanmar, must continue to work together to find a breakthrough to the crisis.
“ASEAN, as a big ship, must move forward. This big ship must continue to sail,” he said.
“This big ship cannot sink because this is our responsibility to hundreds of millions of people inside.”
Indonesia is this year’s chair of the ASEAN bloc and will host a leaders’ summit in September. Jakarta has engaged in what it calls “quiet diplomacy” with the Myanmar junta in a bid to bring it back to the negotiating table.
Widodo said the bloc’s efforts to solve the crisis would continue along the lines of a five-point deal agreed with Myanmar’s junta two years ago.
But the junta has largely ignored that agreement, which aims to end violence and resume talks between the military and the anti-coup movement.
ASEAN has been divided over how to engage with junta since the 2021 coup and has barred it from high-level summits over a lack of action on the five-point agreement.
Thailand has taken a separate track to ASEAN efforts, hosting “informal talks” with the junta’s foreign minister.
Bangkok’s top diplomat also said last month that he met with deposed democracy leader Suu Kyi and said she was in good health.
The junta has since granted the 78-year-old a partial pardon, reducing her 33-year sentence by six years.