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United Nations calls for halt of weapons to Myanmar

United Nations calls for halt of weapons to Myanmar

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres smiles while speaking to the media as UN General Assembly appointed him for a second five-year term from Jan 1, 2022, in New York City, New York, US, Jun 18, 2021. (Photo: REUTERS/Andrew Kelly)

NEW YORK: The United Nations General Assembly on Friday (Jun 18) called for a stop to the flow of arms to Myanmar and urged the military to respect November election results and release political detainees, including leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

The General Assembly adopted a resolution with the support of 119 countries some four months after the military overthrew Aung San Suu Kyi's elected government in a coup. Belarus requested the text be put to a vote and was the only country to oppose it, while 36 abstained, including China and Russia.

The remaining 37 General Assembly members did not vote.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres had earlier on Friday pushed the General Assembly to act, telling reporters: "We cannot live in a world where military coups become a norm. It is totally unacceptable."

The military cited the government's refusal to address what it said was fraud in a November election as the reason for the coup. International observers have said the ballot was fair.

READ: South Korea provides US$900,000 for UN Myanmar aid

READ: 'No regrets': Myanmar dissidents evade junta with life on the run

An initial draft UN resolution included stronger language calling for an arms embargo on Myanmar. According to a proposal seen by Reuters last month, nine Southeast Asian countries wanted that language removed.

The compromise text "calls on all member states to prevent the flow of arms into Myanmar."

General Assembly resolutions are not legally binding but carry political weight. Unlike the 15-member Security Council, no country has veto power in the General Assembly.

The junta's forces have killed more than 860 people since the Feb 1 coup, according to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners. The junta says the number is much lower.

The UN resolution calls on the Myanmar military to "immediately stop all violence against peaceful protesters" and end restrictions on the internet and social media.

The General Assembly also called on Myanmar to swiftly implement a five-point consensus the junta forged with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in April to halt violence and start dialogue with its opponents.

ASEAN states Brunei, Cambodia, Laos and Thailand abstained in the General Assembly vote, while Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, the Philippines and Vietnam voted in favor. Myanmar's UN Ambassador Kyaw Moe Tun, who speaks for the country's elected civilian government, also voted yes.

Source: Reuters/nh


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