Myanmar minister flies to Thailand for crisis talks

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  • Myanmar's foreign minister flew to Thailand amid the crisis in Myanmar.
  • Wunna Maung Lwin will have talks with Asean.
  • Rallies against military rule in Myanmar.

Myanmar's military-appointed foreign minister flew into Thailand on Wednesday, a Thai government source said, as Myanmar's neighbours intensified efforts to resolve a crisis that began when its army seized power in a 1 February coup.

The minister, Wunna Maung Lwin, arrived for talks on diplomatic efforts by the Association of South East Asian Nations (Asean), the Thai source said, as opponents of the coup again took to the streets in Myanmar.

READ | Western countries step up pressure on Myanmar junta as protests go on

Indonesia has taken the lead in efforts steer a path out of the crisis with the help of fellow Asean members but its plans appeared to falter earlier on Wednesday with the scrapping of a proposed trip to Myanmar by its foreign minister.

This week has seen huge rallies and a general strike to denounce the coup and demand the release of elected leader Aung San Suu Kyi, despite a warning from authorities that confrontation could get people killed.

Protesters from ethnic minorities rallied on Wednesday, together with staff from the energy ministry, as concern mounted about the economic impact of the protests and an associated civil disobedience campaign of strikes.

"The economy isn't doing well, it's in a slump," said Yangon electronics shop owner Win Thein, 56.

"It will only get back to normal when the military returns power to the winning party that we sincerely voted for."

Problem member

The crisis has restored Myanmar's reputation as the problem member of the 10-country Asean.

Indonesia had this week proposed a plan centred on Asean members sending monitors to ensure the generals stick to their promise to hold fair elections, sources said.

The military has not given a time frame for a new election but it imposed a one-year state of emergency when it seized power so it would likely be after that.

But Suu Kyi's party, which swept an 8 November election that the military says was marred by fraud, and its supporters want its victory recognised.

Indonesia's foreign minister, Retno Marsudi, who is in Thailand, had been expected to fly to Myanmar but the trip was off, her ministry said.

"After taking into account current developments and the input of other Asean countries, this is not the ideal time to conduct a visit," Indonesian foreign ministry spokesperson, Teuku Faizasyah, told a briefing in Jakarta.

On Tuesday, hundreds of protesters gathered outside Indonesia's embassy in Yangon to oppose a new election, demanding that the votes they cast in November be recognised.

The army seized power after alleging fraud in the November elections, detaining Suu Kyi and much of the party leadership. The electoral commission dismissed the fraud complaints.

The Future Nation Alliance, a Myanmar-based activist group, said earlier in a statement a visit by Retno would be "tantamount to recognising the military junta".

The group demanded foreign officials meet Htin Lin Aung, a member of a committee representing ousted members of parliament - known by the initials CRPH - who has been appointed the "sole responsible official for foreign relations".

Protesters in the second city of Mandalay marched on Wednesday holding up signs of support for the Committee Representing Pyidaungsu Hluttaw, or parliament.

A procession of elephants also marched in Mandalay, media reported.

The Group of Seven (G7) rich nations on Tuesday condemned intimidation and oppression of those opposing the coup.

"Anyone responding to peaceful protests with violence must be held to account," group foreign ministers said in a statement.

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