UN Security Council likely to vote Wednesday on Myanmar

In this file photo taken on 10 December 2019 people participate in a rally in support of Myanmar's State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi, as she prepares to defend Myanmar at the International Court of Justice in The Hague against accusations of genocide against Rohingya Muslims
AFP file photo

The UN Security Council is likely to vote on Wednesday on a draft resolution demanding an immediate end to violence in Myanmar and urging its military junta to release all political prisoners, including ousted leader Aung San Suu Kyi, diplomats said.

Myanmar has been in crisis since the army took power from Suu Kyi's elected government in February last year, detaining her and other officials and responding to pro-democracy protests and dissent with lethal force.

The 15-member council has long been split on Myanmar with diplomats saying China and Russia would likely shield the junta from strong action. So far it has only agreed formal statements on Myanmar, where the army also led a 2017 crackdown on Rohingya Muslims, forcing more than 700,000 to flee to Bangladesh.

Negotiations on the British-drafted resolution began in September. The initial text - seen by Reuters - urged an immediate end to the transfer of arms to Myanmar and threatened U.N. sanctions, but that language has since been removed.

To be adopted, a Security Council resolution needs at least nine votes in favor and no vetoes by Russia, China, the United States, France or Britain.

"We're still working on it," Russia's UN Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia said on Monday, adding that Moscow was concerned "that it might affect the process in Myanmar, that the Myanmar authorities - if something unacceptable is adopted - will not cooperate."

China's mission to the United Nations did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the draft text.

The draft resolution, seen by Reuters, expresses "deep concern" at the ongoing state of emergency imposed by the military when it seized power and its "grave impact" on the people of Myanmar.

It urges "concrete and immediate actions" to implement a peace plan agreed by the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and issues a call to "uphold democratic institutions and processes and to pursue constructive dialogue and reconciliation in accordance with the will and interests of the people."