Anger as Cambodia PM visits Myanmar
Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen yesterday met Myanmar's military ruler Min Aung Hlaing amid criticism of the first visit by a head of government since the army seized power from an elected government last year.
Hun Sen was greeted by an honour guard and red carpet when he arrived yesterday, just as protests by coup opponents broke out in other parts of the country over fears his trip will provide more legitimacy to the junta.
Hun Sen's two-day visit was the first by a head of government since the army overthrew the civilian administration of Aung San Suu Kyi on Feb 1 last year, sparking months of protests and a bloody crackdown.
The Cambodian leader, who has been criticised over crackdowns on his political opponents at home, has said he was making the visit to press a Myanmar peace plan sponsored by the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean).
Cambodia is current chair of the 10-member Asean.
In Depayin, about 300 km north of the capital, Naypyidaw, protesters burned a poster of the Cambodian prime minister and chanted "Hun Sen don't come to Myanmar. We don't want dictator Hun Sen", photographs on social media showed. There were also reports of protests in the second city of Mandalay and the Tanintharyi and Monywa regions.
In October, junta leader Min Aung Hlaing was barred from attending an Asean summit for his failure to cease hostilities, allow humanitarian access and start dialogue, as agreed with Asean.
But in a further sign of divisions in the 10-member bloc, Hun Sen last month said junta officials should be allowed to attend Asean meetings.
Amnesty International's Deputy Regional Director for Research Emerlynne Gil said the trip risked sending mixed messages to Mynamar's military leader.
US-funded Radio Free Asia cited a junta spokesman as saying Hun Sen would not meet Suu Kyi.