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Myanmar envoy urges UN to stop military coup

NEW YORK: Myanmar’s UN envoy urged the United Nations to use “any means necessary” to stop a military coup there, making a surprise appeal on behalf of the ousted government.

The country has been in crisis since the army seized power on February 1 and detained elected leader Aung San Suu Kyi and much of her party leadership, alleging fraud in a November election her party had won. The coup has brought hundreds of thousands of protesters to Myanmar’s streets and drawn condemnation from Western countries, with some imposing limited sanctions.

Myanmar’s ambassador Kyaw Moe Tun told the UN General Assembly he was speaking on behalf of Suu Kyi’s government and appealed to the body “to use any means necessary to take action against the Myanmar military and to provide safety and security for the people.”

“We need further strongest possible action from the international community to immediately end the military coup, to stop oppressing the innocent people, and to restore the democracy,” told the 193-member UN General Assembly, receiving applause as he finished.

Delivering his final words in Burmese Kyaw Moe Tun, a career diplomat, raised the three-finger salute of pro-democracy protesters and announced “our cause will prevail.”

UN special envoy on Myanmar Christine Schraner Burgener pushed the world body for a collective “clear signal in support of democracy” and told the General Assembly no country should recognise or legitimize the junta.

China’s envoy did not criticize the coup and said the situation was Myanmar’s “internal affairs”, saying it supported diplomacy by Southeast Asian countries which protesters fear could give credibility to the ruling generals.

Uncertainty grew over Suu Kyi’s whereabouts on Friday, as the independent website quoted senior officials of her National League for Democracy (NLD) party as saying she had been moved this week from house arrest to an undisclosed location.

Protesters who have taken to the streets daily for over three weeks demand the release of Suu Kyi, 75, and recognition of the result of last year’s election. In the biggest city, Yangon, riot police fired rubber bullets, stun grenades and shots into the air to send protesters scattering. At least one person was wounded while several people were detained including a Japanese journalist who was held briefly.

Several people were also hurt by police in the second city of Mandalay Police also broke up protests in Naypyitaw, the central town of Magwe and western hill town of Hakha. At least 689 people are under detention or have outstanding charges that have been laid against them since the coup