Myanmar is moving towards a full-fledged civil war, Prime Minister Hun Sen warned while addressing senior military leaders from many countries including China and the US at the opening ceremony of the 9th ASEAN Defence Ministers' Meeting Plus (ADMM+) in Siem Reap on November 23.

He said the civil war was already underway in some parts of Myanmar.

“Cambodia, as the victim of more than three decades of civil war, has useful experience to share in making, building and maintaining peace and building a post-war nation,” he added.

He recalled that 10 years ago, he proposed a “non-civil war zone” or “non-conflict zone” in Southeast Asia, but at that time no ASEAN member states considered a civil war in the region a possibility. Now Myanmar is moving towards one.

He summed up three crucial points for settling the crisis in Myanmar. “First, we must keep the door open for political dialogue and inclusive negotiations. Second, we must ensure the safety, fair treatment and wellbeing of all parties. Third, we need to be proactive while taking responsibility for the peace process. National ownership is very important for peace talks.”

The premier sees ASEAN as the centre of the process of promoting regional integration, intercommunication and interconnection.

Myanmar was one of the main agenda items at the recent ASEAN Summit and related meeting in Phnom Penh. A meeting between Hun Sen as the ASEAN rotating chair and UN secretary-general Antonio Guterres also discussed the ongoing crisis.

Thus far, Hun Sen is the only government leader who has visited Myanmar since the military took power following the dissolution of the former civilian administration led by Novel Peace Prize laureate Aung San Suu Kyi. In the last week, Myanmar’s ruling State Administration Council (SAC) appears to have softened its stance, releasing hundreds of “political prisoners”, apparently following a series of sanctions and reprimands from the international community.