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ASEAN leaders must look beyond US primaries chaos

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Audience members listen as U.S. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks at a campaign rally in Marshalltown, Iowa, Jan. 26.   © Reuters

Before the winter of Donald Trump, it must have seemed like a good idea to hold the first ever summit between the United States and the 10 countries of Southeast Asia in mid-February, amidst America's primary election season. Sandwiched between the start of voting in Iowa and New Hampshire, and the crucial South Carolina primary later in the month, the Southeast Asian leaders were to be treated to a display of democracy in action.

     But now it appears likely that the Asian visitors will not get a firsthand view of democracy at its best, but a chaotic, unpredictable electoral process dominated in the early contests by a self-avowed 72-year-old socialist on the Democratic side, and a bombastic billionaire real estate developer and showman who is leading the Republican race.

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