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Myanmar denies US allegations of involvement in plot against UN envoy

Myanmar's ambassador to the UN Kyaw Moe Tun making a three-finger salute of the pro-democracy movement as he addresses a meeting of the General Assembly on February 26, 2021. (Photo by AFP)

Myanmar's Foreign Ministry has denied US allegations of involvement in a plot against the Asian country's controversial anti-junta UN ambassador.

Kyaw Moe Tun raised controversy when in the wake of the army's February coup, he turned a deaf ear to military rulers' demand that he no longer represent the country at the New York-based body, and refused to step down.

Last week, two Myanmar citizens were arrested and charged by US prosecutors in New York with conspiracy to intimidate Kyaw Moe Tun into resigning. According to US officials, the duo had been hired by an arms dealer in Thailand to attack the envoy to force him to resign or eliminate him if he refused.

In a first reaction to the allegations, the military government emphasized on Monday, "Myanmar has nothing to do with this incident. The said plot... happened among the residents inside the United States of America."

The statement, read on state television, further added that actions should be taken "in accordance with the law of the land,” and that it is considered a US domestic case.

Acting assistant director of the US Federal Bureau of Investigation Jacqueline Maguire commended the “quick and diligent” act of the law enforcement after it was informed last month of the potential assassination of Kyaw Moe Tun.

Kyaw Moe Tun was dismissed from his post as Myanmar's UN ambassador by the military government in power since February. However, he continued to serve at the UN months after the ousting of the government of Aung San Suu Kyi. He denounced the military in a dramatic speech to the United Nations General Assembly, condemning intensified crackdown on anti-coup protesters.

The United States ambassador to the United Nations, Linda Thomas Greenfield, condemned the alleged conspiracy to assault a foreign official and said that the threat "fits a disturbing pattern of authoritarian leaders and their supporters reaching across the globe ... to persecute and repress journalists, activists, and others who dare speak or stand against them."

Myanmar foreign ministry strongly rejected the allegations.

Myanmar's military is struggling to impose order since it arrested the country's de facto leader Suu Kyi and her associates on February 1 over accusations of voter fraud in favor of her National League for Democracy (NLD) party in elections last November.

The military placed commander-in-chief Min Aung Hlaing in power and pledged to hold fresh elections in a year and hand over power to the winner, but has not set a date.

The military’s crackdown on anti-coup protests has left 900 people dead, according to a local monitoring group.

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