Southeast Asian leaders have decided that Myanmar will not take over the rotating leadership of their regional bloc as scheduled in 2026, according to Asian diplomats and the leader of the Philippines.
The decision, revealed on Tuesday at an Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) leaders’ summit taking place in Indonesia, is the latest blow to efforts by Myanmar’s ruling generals to gain international recognition after violently seizing power in 2021.
Western governments have condemned the Myanmar military’s removal of Aung San Suu Kyi’s democratically elected government and have demanded her release from detention, along with other officials.
The Philippines agreed to take over the regional bloc’s chairmanship in 2026 at the ASEAN summit, Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr said in a statement, citing what he told fellow leaders in the closed-door meetings.
“It is my pleasure to announce that the Philippines is ready to take the helm and chair ASEAN in 2026,” Marcos told his ASEAN counterparts in Jakarta, the statement from the presidential palace said.
“We will fortify the foundations of our community-building and navigate ASEAN as it embarks on a new chapter.”
Marcos did not say why the Philippines was taking over the chair from Myanmar.
ASEAN’s leadership rotates annually based on the alphabetical order of the English names of the member states.
A member state at the helm chairs the ASEAN summit and related summits and the group’s various bodies in line with the ASEAN charter.