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Myanmar to dominate ASEAN agenda, but 'little progress expected'

Nine ASEAN leaders pose for media during the ASEAN - South Korea Summits (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Friday, Nov. 11, 2022.

Myanmar's escalating violence and political gridlock are expected to dominate an ASEAN leaders' summit on Friday, as increasingly frustrated members of the regional bloc struggle to get the country's junta to comply with an agreed peace plan.

Members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) have blamed Myanmar's military rulers for failing to implement the peace plan agreed jointly last year, which includes ending hostilities and allowing access for a special envoy and aid.

Political, social and economic chaos have gripped Myanmar since the military overthrew an elected government led by Aung San Suu Kyi last year, led a deadly crackdown on dissidents and unraveled years of reform in the erstwhile fledgling democracy.

ASEAN, which has barred junta leaders from its meetings since last year, repeated last week its commitment to the so-called five-point peace consensus, but some members have urged a stronger stance.

The foreign ministry of Malaysia, which has by far been the most critical of the junta, said it would be "calling for a more decisive stance by ASEAN" at this week's meeting.

Indonesia's foreign minister last week said the junta, not ASEAN, was squarely responsible for a lack of progress on the peace plan and that recommendations would be made to leaders this week on strengthening its implementation.

Members such as Singapore and the Philippines have simply urged dialog and compliance with the peace plan.