Myanmar junta's UN envoy steps down

By Subir Bhaumik

Kolkata, Mar 5 (IANS): In a huge embarrassment to Myanmar's military junta, an Ambassador to the UN hurriedly appointed by them has resigned.

Myanmar's military-backed State Administration Council (SAC) had appointed Tin Maung Naing as the country's UN envoy after firing his predecessor Kyaw Moe Tun on February 27.

The development came a day after Kyaw Moe Tun took the UN by storm when he pleaded with the General Assembly for help restore democracy in Myanmar.

The generals appointed his deputy, Tin Maung Naing, in his place.

But in a statement on Thursday, UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said that Myanmar's mission had sent a communication informing the body that Tin Maung Naing "has submitted his letter of resignation ... recalling that yaw Moe Tun remains the permanent representative of Myanmar to the UN".

This came after a bitter exchange between Kyaw Moe Tun and the SAC back in Myanmar after which the envoy wrote to the president of the UN General Assembly on Monday insisting the Council was "unlawful" and had no authority to remove him.

"I wish therefore to confirm to you that I remain Myanmar's Permanent Representative to the UN," Kyaw insisted.

On Tuesday, Myanmar's Foreign Ministry sent a note verbale to the UN, claiming Kyaw Moe Tun had been removed.

Dujarric then said the UN was looking at both letters that "appeared contradictory", asserting that the UN Accreditation and Protocol Committees were trying to resolve an unusual situation.

A French diplomat at the UN told this writer that the matter could ultimately be referred it to the General Assembly for a simple majority vote.

On condition of anonymity because he was not authorised to speak on the issue, the diplomat said that the decision would actually mean who the world recognises as wielding power in Myanmar.

Since Tuesday, Kyaw Moe Tun has held meetings with his counterpart from the European Union and the representative of the US, who reiterated their support.

He has slated meetings with Indian and ASEAN diplomats this week.

"Kyaw could be Aung Saan Suu Kyi's trump card on the global stage, an asset in the battle to restore parliamentary democracy in the country," the French diplomat said.



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