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Myanmar junta picks replacement for envoy to Britain who broke ranks

Myanmar has selected a new representative to the United Kingdom, replacing the ambassador who was ousted from the embassy in a dramatic standoff after breaking ranks with the military over its Feb. 1 coup, two people familiar with the matter said.

Myanmar junta picks replacement for envoy to Britain who broke ranks

FILE PHOTO: Myanmar's ambassador Kyaw Zwar Minn gestures outside the Myanmar Embassy, after he was locked out of the embassy, and sources said his deputy had shut him out of the building and taken charge on behalf of the military, in London, Britain, April 8, 2021. REUTERS/Toby Melville/File Photo

Myanmar has selected a new representative to the United Kingdom, replacing the ambassador who was ousted from the embassy in a dramatic standoff after breaking ranks with the military over its Feb 1 coup, two people familiar with the matter said.

One of the sources said the junta's new pick has applied for a visa to travel to Britain and is currently in Myanmar. Both sources requested anonymity due to the sensitivity of the issue.

The Myanmar Accountability Project, a UK-based rights group, said the appointee for the London job was Htun Aung Kyaw, who served as a fighter pilot during a long army career. One of the sources also said Htun Aung Kyaw was Myanmar's new pick, but Reuters could not further verify that information.

The British foreign ministry declined to comment on the new representative. It referred Reuters to comments made by the ministry's Asia minister, Nigel Adams, who said earlier this month that government officials "do not discuss the details of accreditation requests in specific cases".

READ: Britain slams 'bullying' Myanmar over London embassy standoff

A spokesperson for the military-controlled government in Myanmar did not respond to calls from Reuters seeking comment.

The former ambassador, Kyaw Zwar Minn, was locked out of the London embassy in April after calling for the release of detained civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi. The military government said he had been dismissed and that the deputy ambassador had taken control.

More than 900 people opposing the junta have been killed by security forces since the coup, drawing international condemnation and sanctions including from Britain.

Chris Gunness, director of the Myanmar Accountability Project, said Britain should not recognize the representative appointed by the military and that granting him accreditation would be "a gross double standard and a moral outrage".

Kyaw Zwar Minn remains in Britain and has urged the British government to refuse to recognize any envoys appointed by the junta and to send them back to Myanmar.

READ: UK sanctions Myanmar Gems Enterprise in bid to cut off military funding

Under the Vienna Convention, Myanmar would need approval from Britain to appoint a new ambassador but permission would not be needed for other posts.

It was not immediately clear whether the new representative would seek to take the title of ambassador or a lower-ranking post such as charge d'affaires.

Britain has imposed sanctions on members of Myanmar's military and some of its business interests following the coup, and has called for democracy to be restored.

The military junta said it took power because elections last year were fraudulent, an allegation rejected by the country's electoral commission.

Britain on Friday appointed a new ambassador to Myanmar, naming Pete Vowles, who previously worked in diplomatic and international development roles in Africa and Asia.

Source: Reuters/nh

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