World News

Australia rejects Myanmar's nominee for ambassador because he's a general

SYDNEY, Australia (AP) - Australia has rejected Myanmar's nominee as ambassador to the country because he is a general in the Southeast Asian nation's military regime.

Foreign Minister Alexander Downer said Tuesday he was taking the highly unusual step of refusing to accept another country's nominee as its top diplomat because of the Myanmar junta's reputation for repression.

"Burma has a very brutal military regime and I refused to accept a general from that regime," Downer told reporters in his home town of Adelaide, using the name many people still call Myanmar.

"We will not be accepting anybody from the military regime in Burma as a representative of Burma in Australia. That is completely unacceptable," he said.

Downer did not identify Myanmar's nominee. The Australian newspaper named him as Brig. Gen. Thura U Thet Oo Maung, who had served in Myanmar's Shan and Karen states where rebels have been fighting the government.

The general would have replaced Myanmar's current ambassador.

Downer said he had made the decision to reject the nominee "a couple of months ago," and the crackdown on anti-government protesters in recent weeks confirmed the junta's brutality.

He said the Australian government believed at least 30 people have been killed in the crackdown - not the 10 that the Myanmar military claims - and about 1,400 arrested.


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