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Myanmar junta agrees to 4-month ceasefire to distribute aid, ASEAN envoy says

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Leaders attend the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) summit on the Myanmar crisis, in Jakarta, Indonesia, April 24, 2021. (Photo by AFP)

Myanmar's military rulers have agreed to an ASEAN call for a four-month ceasefire by all sides in the conflict to ensure the smooth distribution of humanitarian aid expected as early as mid-September, a special ASEAN envoy to Myanmar said.

Speaking to Japan's Kyodo News agency on Sunday, Erywan Yusof, Brunei’s second foreign minister, said he proposed the ceasefire in a video conference last Tuesday with Myanmar’s Foreign Minister Wunna Maung Lwin, and that the military had accepted the proposal.

Following a coup in February, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) has been trying to mediate an end to the violence in Myanmar and open a dialogue between the warring sides.

“This is not a political ceasefire. This is a ceasefire to ensure safety, [and] security of the humanitarian workers,” Erywan said, adding that the rulers “didn't have any disagreement” with the ceasefire, which would be in effect until the end of the year.

Erywan said he had also indirectly passed his proposal to the opponents of the military rulers.

In a separate interview with Reuters on Saturday, Erywan said, “What we are calling for now is ... for all sides to undertake a cessation of violence, especially with regards to distribution of humanitarian assistance.”

ASEAN nations and dialogue partners have pledged $8 million in aid for Myanmar, he added.

Myanmar has been in turmoil since the army ousted civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi, and launched a bloody crackdown on dissent, killing at least 940 people.

Since then, Myanmar’s economy has collapsed, triggering a new exodus of refugees fleeing economic hardships, worsened by the deadly army crackdown and a surge in coronavirus infections.

The United Nations, China and the United States, among others, have opted in favor of ASEAN as the best mediator to find a solution to the crisis in Myanmar, which is itself a member state.

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