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A fight has erupted over Myanmar’s seat at the United Nations


The fight for control of Myanmar has now officially arrived at the United Nations.

In a letter seen by CNN, the Myanmar UN Ambassador Kyaw Moe Tun, who defied the military government in a speech Friday but was then fired, tells the UN he is still the proper representative for Myanmar.

Meanwhile, a deputy Myanmar UN Ambassador will claim he is now the man the military authorities want installed to represent the country.

Both sides have sent the UN letters to make their case, on official letterhead.

Kyaw Moe Tun says he represents Myanmar’s civilian government led by Aung San Suu Kyi, which was overthrown last month in a military coup. Suu Kyi has now been detained alongside other government leaders including President Win Myint.

In his letter, Ambassador Kyaw Moe Tun says “the perpetrators of the unlawful coup against the democratic government of Myanmar have no authority to countermand the legitimate authority of the President of my country”.

UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric told reporters the Myanmar foreign ministry also sent a letter which backs a Deputy Ambassador to take control of the Myanmar UN representation.

“It’s a unique situation we have not seen in a long time,” Dujarric said. He added that the UN is “trying to resolve things as quickly as possible.”

Both men have UN credentials to enter the building, raising an obvious practical question: Who is entitled to the seat in the General Assembly where Myanmar sits?

In past such diplomatic tussles, if the fight raged on, a committee of the UN would determine who get the proper “credentials” to represent their country.

However that could also widen the crisis and take time. The UN spokesman says the Secretary-General wants the Security Council to get Myanmar’s military rulers to return the country to democracy.

Myanmar’s military leaders announced Kyaw Moe Tun’s removal over the weekend, after he made an impassioned public plea for international action to help restore the country’s civilian leadership.

Addressing the UN in New York on Friday, Kyaw Moe Tun had urged the Security Council and the world to use “any means necessary” to hold the military to account.

“We need further strongest possible action from the international community to immediately end the military coup, to stop oppressing the innocent people, to return the state power to the people and to restore the democracy,” he said.

He said he was delivering the speech on behalf of Suu Kyi’s government, and flashed the three fingered “Hunger Games” salute used by protestors on the streets of Myanmar. Thousands in Myanmar have repeatedly come out to protest against the military takeover in recent weeks.

The diplomat received a rare round of applause from his UN colleagues at the end of the speech. The new US ambassador to the UN, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, praised the envoy’s “courageous” remarks.

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