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UN postpones decision on ambassadors of Myanmar, Taliban and Libya

The UN’s acceptance of ambassadors from the Myanmar army, the Taliban and the eastern Libyan government would act as the first step towards their official recognition on the world stage.

The United Nations General Assembly approved postponing its decision on whether Myanmar’s military government and Afghanistan’s Taliban leaders can send ambassadors to the UN in New York, and the assembly also postponed its decision on rival claims to Libya’s seat. at the UN.

The 193-member General Assembly by consensus approved a recommendation by its Credentials Committee to delay a vote on the issues on Friday.

The postponement means that the current envoys from Myanmar, Afghanistan and Libya remain at their posts.

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“The committee decided to postpone its consideration of the credentials for the representatives of Myanmar, Afghanistan and Libya,” said Guyana’s ambassador to the UN, Carolyn Rodrigues-Birkett, who chairs the credentials committee.

The vote could now be postponed to a future date in the ongoing 77th session of the General Assembly, which expires in September 2023.

The acceptance into the UN of ambassadors from Myanmar’s military government, the Taliban in Kabul and the eastern-backed government of Libya would act as the first step towards their official recognition on the world stage.

Men dressed in green uniforms, helmets, carrying water and loudspeakers, walk resolutely
Anti-coup fighters take part in an anti-army demonstration in the Myanmar city of Sagaing in September 2022. [File: AFP]

Myanmar’s military rulers have been trying to seize the country’s UN seat since the country’s democratically elected leader, Aung Suu Kyi, was ousted from power and then jailed following a military coup last year.

The decision of the General Assembly will keep Kyaw Moe Tun, a diplomat from the previous government of Aung San Suu Kyi, in his seat.

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Aung San Suu Kyi has been sentenced to 26 years in prison on corruption charges in what is seen as a politically orchestrated and military-supervised trial.

Chris Gunness, director of the Myanmar Accountability Project (MAP), called the decision on Friday an “important move that carries great diplomatic and symbolic significance, at a time when the leaders of the illegal coup are trying to gain international recognition.”

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The Afghanistan seat will continue to be held by officials from the nation’s previous government of President Ashraf Ghani, who was ousted by the Taliban in 2021 after US and NATO forces withdrew from the country.

The Taliban pledged to uphold the rights of girls and women when they took power; however, the Kabul authorities banned secondary education for girls and restricted work and dress codes for women.

The Taliban have also recently overseen Myanmar’s first public execution since returning to power.

Libya’s ambassador to the UN, Taher El Sonni, is also expected to remain in his current post as envoy for the western Tripoli-based Libyan government. The oil-rich country has been in crisis since a NATO-backed uprising in 2011 that ended with the assassination of the country’s ruler, Muammar Gaddafi.

Libya was again embroiled in a political crisis in 2021 after it failed to hold a long-awaited election, dividing the country into two rival factions, in the east and west of the country. Subsequently, a transitional government in Tripoli rejected calls to step down, and the country’s eastern-based leadership eventually appointed a rival prime minister who intended to take the UN post.

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