NEW YORK — A clash over who represents Myanmar at the United Nations in New York after a Feb. 1 military coup was averted – for now – after the junta’s replacement quit and the Myanmar U.N. mission confirmed that Ambassador Kyaw Moe Tun remained in the job.
Kyaw Moe Tun was fired by the junta on Saturday, a day after he urged countries at the 193-member U.N. General Assembly to use “any means necessary” to reverse the coup that ousted the nation’s elected leader Aung San Suu Kyi.
In Washington, Myanmar’s embassy also signaled a break with the junta on Thursday, issuing a statement decrying the deaths of civilians protesting the coup and calling on authorities to “fully exercise utmost restraint.”
Police in Myanmar broke up demonstrations in several places with tear gas and gunfire on Thursday as protesters took to the streets again, undeterred by the rising death toll in a crackdown on coup opponents.
“Instead of demonstrating respect for the rule of law, pursuing dialog and refraining from violence, the military has dramatically accelerated violence against the people of Burma,” U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield said on Thursday. “This is simply unacceptable.”
On Sunday, the Myanmar U.N. mission said Kyaw Moe Tun’s deputy, Tin Maung Naing, would become the acting U.N. envoy. On Monday, Kyaw Moe Tun formally staked his claim to remain the country’s legitimate representative – a job he has held since October – in a letter to the United Nations.
The rival claims raised the prospect of the 193-member U.N. General Assembly having to address the issue.
On Wednesday, the Myanmar U.N. mission told the United Nations that Tin Maung Naing had resigned and Kyaw Moe Tun remained the country’s ambassador. It said the note it sent on Sunday “shall be ignored.”
Myanmar’s representation at the United Nations could become an issue again if the junta tries to appoint a new ambassador.
The U.N. special envoy on Myanmar, Christine Schraner Burgener, has warned that no country should recognize or legitimize the Myanmar junta.
The U.N. Security Council is due to discuss Myanmar on Friday in a closed meeting, diplomats said. The 15-member council has voiced concern over the state of emergency, but stopped short of condemning the coup due to opposition from Russia and China.
“The people of Burma have stood firm for democracy, our voices need to be equally firm, and they must be united in supporting the people of Burma,” Thomas-Greenfield said.
(Reporting by Michelle Nichols, additional reporting by Simon Lewis; Editing by Howard Goller and Daniel Wallis)