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UN delays action on Myanmar and Afghanistan’s bid for seats

December 6, 2021 GMT

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — The U.N. General Assembly approved a resolution Monday delaying action on requests by Myanmar’s military junta and Afghanistan’s Taliban rulers to take their countries’ seats at the United Nations, a decision that leaves the ambassadors from the ousted governments in their jobs.

Assembly President Abdulla Shahid banged his gavel to approve the measure by consensus, without a vote.

Myanmar’s military rulers sought to replace the country’s ambassador to the United Nations, Kyaw Moe Tun, who opposed their Feb. 1 ouster of civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi and takeover of the government. Tun sat in Myanmar’s seat in the General Assembly hall during consideration of the resolution.

Afghanistan’s Taliban rulers challenged the credentials of Ghulam Isaczai, the ambassador from Afghanistan’s former government led by Ashraf Ghani which they ousted on Aug. 15. Isaczai sat in Afghanistan’s seat in the assembly on Monday.

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The resolution was introduced by Sweden’s U.N. Ambassador Anna Eneström, chair of the General Assembly’s Credentials Committee, which recommended last week that the United Nations defer a decision on the credentials of the two countries. She said the nine-member committee has not scheduled another meeting and would not say how long the issue of credentials for Myanmar and Afghanistan would be deferred.

U.N. diplomats said the decision to delay the requests by Myanmar’s junta and the Taliban had wide support because of the actions of the two countries’ new rulers.

The decision by the assembly came hours after Myanmar’s Suu Kyi was convicted on charges of incitement and breaching coronavirus restrictions Monday and handed a four-year sentence that was quickly cut in half. The proceedings were widely criticized internationally as a further effort by the military to roll back democratic gains in the country in recent years.

No country has recognized the Taliban, which has come under intense international pressure to broaden its all-male, overwhelmingly Pashtun government, and to ensure the rights of women to education, employment and participation in Afghan political and social life.

The resolution’s approval also means that Aung Thurein, who left Myanmar’s military this year after 26 years and had been appointed as the country’s U.N. ambassador, and the Taliban’s choice as U.N. ambassador, Mohammad Suhail Shaheen, who was a spokesman during peace negotiations in Qatar, will have to wait for an unknown length of time to represent their nations at the United Nations.

While the Credentials Committee’s resolution was adopted by consensus, it provoked controversy in comments afterward.

The committee noted that the United States dissociated itself from the consensus solely on the acceptance of the credentials submitted by Venezuela’s government headed by Nicolas Maduro or its ambassador. The U.S. backs Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaidó.

Colombia spoke on behalf of Australia, Brazil, Canada, Ecuador, El Salvador, United States, Georgia, Guatemala, Honduras, Marshall Islands, Israel, Paraguay, United Kingdom and South Korea, saying their support for the resolution “should not be interpreted as a tacit acknowledgement for recognition of our countries to Nicolas Maduro or his designated representatives to this assembly.”

Venezuela’s U.N. Ambassador Samuel Moncada thanked the assembly for accepting the credentials of “the sole legitimate government” of the country which was elected by the people, and said once again the United States and its allies “have failed in their interventionist policy” against the country.

The members of the credentials committee are Sweden, the United States, Russia, China, Bahamas, Bhutan, Chile, Namibia and Sierra Leone.