Ousted Myanmar ambassador tells UK: reject the military's envoy


Myanmar's ambassador Kyaw Zwar Minn stands, 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, outside the Myanmar Embassy in London, Britain, April 8, 2021. REUTERS/Toby Melville

LONDON (Reuters) -Myanmar's ousted ambassador to the United Kingdom, who has been locked out of his embassy by the military, urged the British government on Thursday to refuse to recognise the junta's envoys and send them back to Myanmar.

In a move that has implications for Myanmar's network of diplomats across the world, the ambassador was locked out of his London embassy on Wednesday by his deputy at the behest of the Myanmar military which seized power in February.

"We believe the UK government would not back those who are working for the military junta and we also would like to urge the UK government to send them back," Ambassador Kyaw Zwar Minn said through his spokesman who read out a statement in English.

"We call on the UK government specifically to refuse to work with the charge d'affairs Chit Win that the military council have nominated or any other ambassador that they might try to nominate in future," the ambassador said.

There was no immediate response from Britain to the appeal, but earlier on Thursday foreign minister Dominic Raab praised the ousted envoy's courage and repeated his call for a restoration of democracy in Myanmar.

In a letter from Myanmar's embassy to Britain's foreign ministry, those in control of the embassy said deputy ambassador Chit Win had taken over as charge d'affairs as of April 7.

"A KIND OF COUP"

Kyaw Zwar Minn was recalled as ambassador on March 9, the letter said. He said he had refused to obey the foreign ministry since then and has called for the release of detained civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

"I have been locked out," he told Reuters late on Wednesday. "It's a kind of coup, in the middle of London."

The embassy drama puts Britain in a quandary: it has condemned and sanctioned the Myanmar military but could find it hard to evict those holed up in the embassy - in the Mayfair area of west London.

"We condemn the bullying actions of the Myanmar military regime in London yesterday, and I pay tribute to Kyaw Zwar Minn for his courage," Raab said before the appeal, repeating his call for an end to violence and a return to democracy in Myanmar.

(Reporting by Guy Faulconbridge; editing by Sarah Young and Gareth Jones)

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