18 Nov 2011

Myanmar allowed to chair ASEAN grouping

8:58 am on 18 November 2011

The countries of Southeast Asia have agreed to allow Myanmar to chair the regional grouping ASEAN in 2014, for the first time.

Indonesia, which is chairing the 10-member group this year, says Myanmar has made significant progress towards democracy and the process is now irreversible.

Indonesia's foreign minister Marty Natalegawa says the decision at an ASEAN summit was unanimous.

He says the move could help induce further reforms in the country, the BBC reports.

"The next level of motivation would come, in our view, by actually putting them on the spot. Make them the chair of ASEAN and that will have a huge opening up impact," he says.

"They will be under scrutiny, under the spotlight, because they would not be able to chair ASEAN in 2014 if they are not on the right page in terms of reform, democracy and human rights."

The leadership of ASEAN rotates annually.