The leaders of the countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) on Tuesday began their annual meeting without a Myanmar representative and following the exclusion of the leader of the military junta that took control by force in February.

During the opening of the summit, which was held via videoconference due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the space reserved for a non-political Myanmar representative remained empty.

Neither the ASEAN secretary general nor Brunei, which holds the rotating chairmanship of the bloc this year, have indicated why Myanmar has started the summit without representation, and it is unknown if this will continue.

On Oct. 15, ASEAN foreign ministers decided to exclude the military junta from the event and invite a non-political representative from Myanmar instead after failing to reach a consensus on a political representative from the country.