DILI, 31 august 2023 (TATOLI) – Prime Minister, Kay Rala Xanana Gusmão said the expulsion of Timor-Leste’s diplomat, Avelino Pereira, by the Myanmar rulers, will not affect the country’s accession to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).
Gusmão told reporters after his weekly meeting with the President of the Republic, José Ramos Horta, today, in Dili.
“The expulsion of our diplomat from Myanmar will not affect our accession to the block,” Gusmão made the comments in response to the expulsion of the diplomat, last week.
Following his expulsion, the IX Constitutional Government condemned the Myanmar Military Junta’s decision and ordered Chargé d’Affaires Pereira, to leave the country by september 1.
Gusmão said that Timor-Leste is now focused on working on the roadmap to achieve its goal of becoming an official member of ASEAN by 2025.
Previously, Gusmão urged leaders of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to find a solution to the Myanmar crisis.
In response to Pereira’s expulsion, the President of the Republic, José Ramos Horta, proudly reiterated Timor-Leste’s position to defend human rights and condemn the crimes against humanity committed by Myanmar’s rulers.
The Head of State reaffirmed Timor-Leste’s efforts to continue working with other ASEAN member states to find solutions to the Myanmar crisis.
On sunday (27/08), AP reported that Myanmar’s military-installed government ordered Timor-Leste senior diplomat to leave the country in retaliation for Timor-Leste holding meetings with the members of the National Unity Government (NUG), including Foreign Minister Daw Zin Mar Aung and the Minister of Human Rights, Aung Myo Min.
Meanwhile, Timor-Leste’s Deputy Minister for ASEAN Affairs, Milena Rangel, also made the same statement about the expulsion of the Timorese diplomat in relation to Timor-Leste’s membership of ASEAN: “In principle, ASEAN has accepted Timor-Leste as a member.”
She said therefore, even though it does not yet have voting rights, Timor-Leste will participate in various ASEAN meetings.
With the granting of observer status, Timor-Leste participated in the 42nd ASEAN Summit which took place between May 9 and 11 this year in Labuan Bajo, Indonesia.
Myanmar is one of the ASEAN countries still struggling for democracy and freedom of expression and movement.
The freedom of movement was highly restricted in Myanmar and those traveling outside their designated townships faced arrest and imprisonment for “illegal movement.”
The National Unity Government of the Republic of the Union of Myanmar is a Myanmar government in exile formed by the Committee Representing Pyidaungsu Hluttaw (CRPH), a group of elected lawmakers and members of parliament ousted in the 2021 Myanmar coup d’etat.
Journalist: Filomeno Martins
Editor: Nelia Borges