Warning over Myanmar regime change

PROTEST: A woman speaks to police during protests outside the Myanmar embassy in Bangkok. Pic. Arthur Jones Dionio. 14/10/07. © Reuters.
PROTEST: A woman speaks to police during protests outside the Myanmar embassy in Bangkok. Pic. Arthur Jones Dionio. 14/10/07. © Reuters.

SINGAPORE - Pushing through a sudden regime change in Myanmar could "create another Iraq", leaving the country engulfed in violence, the head of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) group of nations warned yesterday.

SINGAPORE - Pushing through a sudden regime change in Myanmar could "create another Iraq", leaving the country engulfed in violence, the head of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) group of nations warned yesterday.

Ong Keng Yong said the regime change would have dire regional implications and that the best outcome was to thrash out a consensus between the military and the political opposition led by Aung San Suu Kyi.

Ong, who is secretary-general of ASEAN, which includes Myanmar, said sudden change was not a realistic solution.

"Whether you are in ASEAN or not, if you sit back and understand the constitution and make-up of Myanmar and you say you want to have a regime change, you are going to create another Iraq.

"It's an Iraqi situation because there are at least 17 different major factions making up the population of Myanmar.

"Just look at Iraq. They (US-led forces) removed the former Iraqi army, the former Iraqi police and now what is happening? I think regime change is a very fashionable buzz word in certain quarters but it is not realistic," he said.

The ruling generals sparked global outrage when soldiers and riot police used weapons to disperse anti-government demonstrations last month, killing at least 13 people.

More than 2000 people were arrested following the biggest protests against the military government in almost 20 years.

A UN special envoy, Nigerian diplomat Ibrahim Gambari, is currently on a Southeast Asian swing to push Asian nations to pressure the regime. He met Thai leaders yesterday. Ong said regime change should not be part of the solution.

"If we look at the next step as a regime change, that is not really realistic. Even if you can force it onto the situation in Myanmar, that is very, very dangerous," he said.

As well as Myanmar and Singapore, the 10-country grouping also includes Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam. - Sapa-AFP

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