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Burmese army seeks to replace UN ambassador again

UNITED NATIONS (PA) – Myanmar’s military leaders are once again seeking to replace the country’s ambassador to the United Nations, who opposed the February 1 ouster of civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi and government takeover.

Foreign Minister Wunna Maung Lwin said in a letter to UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres that he had appointed Aung Thurein, who left the military this year after 26 years, as Myanmar’s ambassador to the UN . A copy of the letter was obtained from The Associated Press on Tuesday.

Lwin said in a cover letter that Kyaw Moe Tun, Myanmar’s currently recognized ambassador to the UN, “was fired on February 27, 2021, due to abuse of office and mandate.”

In a dramatic speech at a General Assembly meeting on Myanmar on February 26 – weeks after the military takeover – Tun called for “the strongest possible action by the international community” to restore democracy in the country. He also urged all countries to strongly condemn the coup, refuse to recognize the military regime and call on military leaders to respect the November 2020 elections won by Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy party.

“We will continue to fight for a government that is of the people, by the people, for the people,” Tun said in a speech that drew loud applause from diplomats in the hemicycle who called him “mighty”, “courageous” and “courageous.”

The military’s previous attempt to oust Tun was unsuccessful and no action was reported on the Foreign Minister’s letter dated May 12.

The 193-member General Assembly is responsible for accrediting diplomats. A request for accreditation must first be made to its nine-member credentials committee, which this year includes Cameroon, China, Iceland, Papua New Guinea, Russia, Trinidad and Tobago. Tobago, Tanzania, the United States and Uruguay.

Deputy UN spokesperson Farhan Haq said that to his knowledge no meeting of the Credentials Committee has been scheduled.

In June, the UN said Secretary-General Antonio said the November election results, which gave Suu Kyi’s party a strong second term, must stand.

The London-based Myanmar Accountability Project has condemned the military’s attempts to replace Tun as well as Myanmar’s Ambassador to the UK Kyaw Zwar Minn, who also remains loyal to Suu Kyi. The Guardian newspaper reported in April that Minn was left in limbo after being kicked out of the London embassy by his deputy and the country’s military attaché.

The Guardian quoted Minn as saying that his friends and relatives in Myanmar had been forced into hiding and that he did not feel safe in the ambassador’s residence, which he still occupied at the time.

Myanmar Accountability Project director Chris Gunness said the military is looking to replace Minn with former fighter pilot Htun Aung Kyaw.

Thurein and Kyaw both have strong military backgrounds which “make reading ugly,” Gunness said, adding that the fact that Thurein remains in the military until 2021 strongly suggests that he served during the military takeover. of February 1 and the repression that followed.

He called “an affront to the world body” that the army seeks to send to the UN “a man with such strong links with an institution bleeding on his hands and who was accused of genocide in The Hague before. even the coup. “

A UN investigation recommended prosecution of Myanmar’s top military commanders for genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity for the 2017 military crackdown on Rohingya Muslims that forced 700,000 to flee to neighboring Bangladesh .

In January 2020, the highest United Nations tribunal based in The Hague, the Netherlands, ordered Myanmar to do everything possible to prevent the genocide against the Rohingya still in Myanmar. The decision of the International Court of Justice came despite calls from Suu Kyi for judges to drop the case amid her denials of genocide by the armed forces.

Gunness said British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and other leaders condemned the coup and the UK and its allies imposed sanctions on Myanmar military leaders and their business interests. He said it would be “a blatant double standard and moral outrage” for the government to accredit Kyaw, claiming he does not represent the legitimate government and “served in an army accused of war crimes and crimes against humanity “.

He also urged Britain to use its influence at the UN to ensure the credentials committee does not accredit Thurein.

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