NEW YORK: UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has vowed to mobilise the international community to put enough pressure on Myanmar to ensure that the military coup in the country “fails”, saying it is unfortunate that the Security Council is not yet united in dealing with the crisis.
The UN Security Council met on Tuesday to discuss the situation in Myanmar after the military seized power and detained State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi, President U Win Myint and other top political leaders in the bloodless coup.
Suu Kyi has been charged with illegally importing walkie-talkies, a move by which she can be detained until February 15.
In an interview to The Washington Post, Guterres said: “Unfortunately, the Security Council was not yet able to have unity in this regard and we will do everything we can to mobilise all the key actors of the international community to put enough pressure on Myanmar to make sure that this coup fails”.
Guterres said that after the November elections in Myanmar, which “took place normally” and after the large period of transition, it is “absolutely unacceptable” to reverse the results of the election and the will of the people.
The Council is yet to issue any statement on the situation in Myanmar.
An initial draft by Britain put forth for discussion among the 15-member Council condemns the coup, calls for the military to respect the rule of law and for the immediate release of the detained leaders.
Dmitry Polyanskiy, First Deputy Permanent Representative of Russia to the UN, tweeted that China, Russia and Vietnam have insisted on “continuing work on draft press-statement”, which needs to be agreed upon by consensus.
“This is our right. Today we gave our edits. Responsibility of #UNSC is to give signals that improve situation and not worsen it #Myanmar,” Polyanskiy said in the tweet on Wednesday.
Guterres said in the interview that “Suu Kyi – if we can accuse her of something – is that she was too close to the military, she protected too much the military, namely in relation to what has happened with the dramatic offensive of the military against the Rohingyas that led to this massive exodus” of the Rohingyas to Bangladesh.
He said Suu Kyi assumed the defence of the military even in an international court.
“So, if we can accuse her of something, it was to be too close to the military. It is absolutely unacceptable to see this coup and I hope that democracy will be able to make progress again in Myanmar,” Guterres said.
He that in order to achieve that, all the prisoners must be released and the constitutional order re-established as he expressed hope that the international community will be able to come together.
“As I said, there was not yet unanimity in the Security Council, there was not yet unity in the Council. I hope that unity will come and I hope that it will be possible to make the military in Myanmar understand that this is not the way to rule the country and this is not the way to move forward,” the UN chief said.
Stephane Dujarric, Spokesman for the Secretary-General, said at the daily press briefing on Wednesday that the charges filed against Suu Kyi “just compound the undermining of the rule of law in Myanmar and the democratic process”.
He said that the UN chief will continue to call for her “immediate release” as well as of all those detained by the military in the last few days.
UN Secretary-General’s Special Envoy on Myanmar Christine Schraner Burgener has urged the Council to “collectively” send a clear signal in support of democracy in Myanmar.
She has asserted that the recent outcome of the November 2020 election was a landslide victory for the National League for Democracy (NLD), which won over 82 per cent of parliamentary seats at the union, regional and state levels.
“This provided a strong renewed mandate to the NLD, reflecting the clear will of the people of Myanmar to continue on the hard-won path of democratic reform,” Burgener said.
She further stressed that declaration of the Statement of Emergency and the arrest of civilian leadership are unconstitutional and illegal, and called for the declaration to be repealed, detained leaders released immediately, and the post-election litigation process should resume with full commitment from all sides.
“The military’s proposal to hold elections again should be discouraged. It is important that we join our efforts in helping ensure the military respects the will of the people of Myanmar and adheres to democratic norms,” she said.
Guterres emphasised that the Rohingyas are part of Myanmar’s society and need to be granted rights and citizenship.
He said that the UN did everything it could to protect the Rohingyas in Bangladesh and UN agencies and envoys put pressure on Myanmar authorities to understand that they need to change policies and create conditions for the Rohingyas to return with safety and dignity.
“Till now, very little progress has been achieved on that. Now unfortunately, with this coup, I’m afraid that even the small progress that was made will be lost,” Guterres added.