myanmar junta leader aims to solidify grip on power un - Myanmar junta leader aims to solidify grip on power: UN

UNITED NATIONS (REUTERS) – The UN special envoy on Myanmar said on Tuesday (Aug 10) the country’s military leader appears determined to solidify his grip on power following a February coup and ousted leader Aung San Suu Kyi’s political party could soon be disbanded.

Christine Schraner Burgener cited military ruler Min Aung Hlaing’s announcement this month that he was now prime minister in a newly formed caretaker government and also a formal annulment of the results of a November election, which was won by Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy (NLD).

“I fear that we will soon hear also that the NLD party could be disbanded. This is an attempt to promote legitimacy against lack of international action taken,” Schraner Burgener told reporters.

“I have to make clear that the UN does not recognise governments, so it’s up to the member states.”

She said unless UN member states act, Myanmar’s UN Ambassador Kyaw Moe Tun – an opponent of the junta – remains the country’s legitimate envoy at the world body in New York and Suu Kyi and Myanmar President Win Myint are the country’s leaders.

The junta, which argues that it is not a military government and came about through a constitutional transfer of power, has said it wants to appoint Aung Thurein – a member of Myanmar’s military from 1995 to 2021 – to be the UN ambassador.

UN credentials are initially considered by a nine-member committee appointed at the beginning of each annual session of the 193-member General Assembly, which starts in September.

Schraner Burgener stressed that it was up to member states to decide who should represent Myanmar, but she described it as a “crucial moment”.

“I’m still convinced that this was a coup, which was not yet successfully completed,” she said. “It was an unlawful act and we have still a legitimate government from the NLD.”

The United Nations has previously had to address competing claims for representation, some culminating with a vote in the General Assembly. The credentials committee is also able to defer a decision and leave a seat empty.

Meanwhile, the United States said on Tuesday it was giving Myanmar more than US$50 million (S$68 million) in aid as surging Covid-19 infections worsened a humanitarian crisis in the Southeast Asian country already reeling after generals overthrew a democratically elected government earlier this year.

The US funding will aid “those forced to flee violence and persecution” as well as help groups provide health care services in addition to essentials such as food, shelter and water, the State Department said.

“In the wake of the February 1 coup, people from Burma continue to flee their homes due to ongoing violence.”

Six months after the army seized power, Myanmar’s economy has collapsed and its health system has buckled as Coronavirus cases surged.

Covid-19 cases peaked in Myanmar last month, with 3,824 new daily infections now reported on average, Reuters data show. It has seen 333,127 infections and 12,014 coronavirus-related deaths since the pandemic began.

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