EU lawmakers call for sanctions on Myanmar junta

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - European Union lawmakers called on Thursday for the bloc’s governments to sanction Myanmar’s military leadership following last week’s military coup, issuing a resolution urging the reinstatement of civilian rule.

The resolution, which is not binding but carries political weight, was adopted by 677 votes in favour, one against and with 27 abstentions.

EU governments have condemned the Feb. 1 coup and are due to consider a response at their next meeting on Feb. 22. More sanctions on individuals and on businesses owned by the military were a possibility, EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said on Wednesday.

The EU, one of Myanmar’s main trade partners, could also cut development aid and reduce Myanmar’s tariff-free access to the bloc’s almost 500 million consumers.

However, Borrell warned that withdrawing trade preferences would damage the textile sector, while leaving businesses run by the military untouched. “Five hundred thousand workers would be at risk, mostly women. So we cannot afford taking these kinds of measures,” Borrell said.

U.S. President Joe Biden approved on Wednesday an executive order for new sanctions on those responsible for the coup, and repeated demands for the generals to give up power and free civilian leaders.

Although ousted leader Aung San Suu Kyi has lost favour with the West because of her defence of the military over allegations of genocide against at Myanmar’s Rohingya population, the European Parliament also called for her release.

“Aung San Suu Kyi continues to be the symbol of the Burmese people when it comes to democratic aspirations and ambitions for a more just and democratic future,” the parliament said in its resolution.

Reporting by Robin Emmott; Editing by Alex Richardson