Diplomats: UN blocks Myanmar military from taking UN seat

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UNITED NATIONS (AP) — A key U.N. committee has again blocked Myanmar’s military junta from taking the country’s seat at the United Nations, two well-informed U.N. diplomats said Wednesday.

The General Assembly’s credentials committee met Monday and deferred action on the junta’s request, the diplomats said, speaking on condition of anonymity before a formal announcement likely later this week.

The decision means that Kyaw Moe Tun, who was Myanmar’s ambassador at the United Nations when the military ousted civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi on Feb. 1, 2021, will remain on the job.

Last December, Myanmar’s military rulers also failed in their effort to replace Tun, who remains a supporter of the previous government and the opposition National Unity Government, which opposes the junta.

Chris Gunness, director of the London-based Myanmar Accountability Project, welcomed the credentials committee’s move, saying it has “great diplomatic and symbolic significance, at a time when the illegal coup leaders are attempting to gain international recognition.”

“General Min Aung Hlaing has inflicted on the people of Myanmar violence of a scale not seen in southeast Asia since Pol Pot unleashed the Khmer Rouge’s reign of terror on Cambodia,” Gunness said in a statement.

Damian Lilly, an Accountability Project official, urged the United Nations to ensure that Tun is afforded all U.N. rights and privileges and that the National Unity Government “is allowed to represent Myanmar in all UN bodies.”

“At present, there are glaring inconsistencies,” he said, with Tun sitting in the 193-member General Assembly while Myanmar’s seat at the U.N. Human Rights Council is empty.

Lilly said the credentials committee’s action “must pave the way to resolving these anomalies which are depriving 55 million people in Myanmar of the opportunity to be represented at the U.N. by the government which they elected by a landslide in 2020.”

Suu Kyi, who was arrested when the military seized power from her elected government, has been sentenced to 26 years’ imprisonment and faces additional charges.

Rights groups and supporters of Suu Kyi say the charges against her are politically motivated and an attempt to discredit her and legitimize the military’s seizure of power while preventing her from returning to politics.

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