Myanmar military chief Senior Gen. Min Aung Hlaing will attend a summit of ASEAN leaders on April 24, the Thai foreign ministry said Saturday.
The ad hoc meeting of the leaders of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations is aimed at discussing the situation in Myanmar where protests against the Feb. 1 coup by the military and violent crackdowns on them continue.
Some member countries of ASEAN have proposed holding the special summit to discuss the upheaval in Myanmar, seeking a peaceful resolution to the crisis in the country where the military has intensified its crackdown on protesters calling for democracy and the release of ousted leader Aung San Suu Kyi.
Since the military seized power from the elected government of Suu Kyi, security forces have killed 728 people as of Friday, according to a tally by the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners based in Thailand and Myanmar.
ASEAN members share a sense of crisis that the authority and the credibility of the association could be harmed unless it takes initiative in mapping out a procedure for improving the situation in Myanmar, some sources said.
The summit on Myanmar is planned to take place in Jakarta, but it can be held online or only part of the ASEAN member countries may participate in the meeting in person with others attending through videoconference, sources close to the matter said.
Not all the member nations have decided yet on attending the summit, according to the sources.
While it is expected that leaders of the ASEAN nations will ask Hlaing to stop the security forces' violence against civilians, the Committee Representing Pyidaungsu Hluttaw, a group comprised of pro-democracy forces in Myanmar, was opposed to ASEAN inviting the coup leader to the special summit.
Sasa, who has handled the group's communication with overseas media, said in his Facebook post Friday that ASEAN's invitation to Hlaing "will bring not only great shame to the summit but will be considered as great insult" to the people of Myanmar.
The CRPH said Friday it has formed a national unity government that is headed by Suu Kyi and Win Myint, the ousted president, in opposition to military rule.
The special summit has been proposed by Indonesian President Joko Widodo since March and agreed on by some members of ASEAN including Singapore and Malaysia.
However, China, which has strong influence on the region of the ASEAN countries, has called for the international community to refrain from interfering in the internal affairs of Myanmar.
The ASEAN countries' defense chiefs held an online meeting on March 18 and Hlaing attended but kept silent on the coup, sources close to the matter told Kyodo News.
During the meeting, representatives of Indonesia and Singapore said Myanmar's crackdown on protesters is against the ASEAN Charter that upholds respect for human rights and the rule of law, proposing support for restoring stability in the country. But Hlaing did not respond, according to the sources.
ASEAN groups Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.