Indonesia said on Wednesday that recently freed opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi needs to play a part in the solution of Myanmar’s ongoing political problems.
Ms. Suu Kyi was released from seven years of house detention on November 13, a week after military-ruled Myanmar staged its first general election in two decades.
Observers slammed the election as a sham designed to cement the army’s rule over the country, which has been under military dictatorships since 1962.
The polls, held on November 7, seemed timed to exclude Ms. Suu Kyi from the process and undermine her potential role in the post-election period.
But Indonesia, which will assume the chairmanship of the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN) next year, made it clear that it still sees Ms. Suu Kyi as playing a pivotal part.
“Our vision from the start was that it would take the election and national dialogue, inclusive of Aung San Suu Kyi, for further development in Myanmar post-election,” said Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa.
“In short, what we are going to suggest in the most constructive way, is that we need to see Daw (Madam) Aung San Suu Kyi and the authorities in Myanmar as being part of the solution to the situation in Myanmar,” Mr. Marty told a seminar on ASEANpolicy at Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok.
Indonesia will chair two ASEAN summits and the East Asia Summit, which includes ASEAN, Australia, China, India, Japan, New Zealand, South Korea, Russia and the U.S.
Myanmar’s political problems promise to be a major subject of debate at these forums, as they have been for the past two decades.
Western democracies slapped economic sanctions on Myanmar, in 1988 when the army cracked down on pro-democracy demonstrators, leaving an estimated 3,000 people dead.
ASEAN has traditionally followed a policy of “constructive engagement” with the pariah state, even allowing it to enter its fold in 1997 despite objections from the region’s main allies — the U.S. and European Union.
Indonesia, in its coming role as ASEAN chair, is advocating greater cooperation between the two camps in pressuring Myanmar to become more democratic, with the West easing some sanctions when appropriate and the East being more critical of the military’s lack of progress.
“We hope that in 2011 many of the external sides of the Myanmar issue will find some closure,” Mr. Marty said.