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Afghanistan and Myanmar withdraw from UN speaker list amid credentials dispute

Afghanistan’s UN representative Ghulam Isaczai — an appointee of the country’s former democratic government, which crumbled under the Taliban’s advance last month — had been expected to address world leaders on Monday. His staff informed the UN over the weekend that he would no longer be speaking, according to UN Secretary-General spokesman Stéphane Dujarric.

“This does not change the fact that the representative of Afghanistan remains the same,” Dujarric said.

The battle over who represents Afghanistan began last week, when the Taliban sent the UN a request to replace Isaczai with their own envoy, Mohammad Suhail Shaheen, as CNN reported last week.

Since the Taliban took control of Afghanistan, Isaczai has continued to advocate for his country, meeting with foreign envoys and even calling on the UN Security Council to pressure the Taliban into forming a more democratic government.

The UN Credentials Committee is expected to discuss the matter when it meets in November. It will also have another high-profile dispute to adjudicate: between Myanmar’s representative to the UN Kyaw Moe Tun — who was appointed by his country’s former government — and the military junta that seized power in a coup earlier this year.

Kyaw Moe Tun was also scheduled to speak Monday, but confirmed to CNN that he had withdrawn.

“Last week we informed the secretariat of Myanmar’s withdrawal from the speaker list. We will not be speaking today, according to the revised list,” he said.

He declined to comment on the reason, but cited a Foreign Policy report describing a US-China-brokered deal to hold off on granting UN credentials to the junta.

There is an understanding between Russia, China and the United States regarding Myanmar not speaking as long as Ambassador Kyaw Moe Tun remains in his post, a UN diplomat has separately told CNN.

“I withdrew from the speaker list in order to keep the seat for the people of Myanmar,” Kyaw Moe Tun said.

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