UN envoy of Afghanistan’s ousted government asks to keep New York seat

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The UN ambassador representing Afghanistan’s ousted government has asked to remain in the country’s seat at the world body in New York, a UN spokesperson said on Friday, setting up a showdown if the Taliban tries to appoint their own envoy.

Ambassador Ghulam Isaczai signed a letter to UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres with a list of Afghanistan’s delegation for the General Assembly, Guterres’ spokesperson Farhan Haq said.

It was not immediately clear if the Taliban, who seized power last month as US and foreign forces withdrew after a 20 year war, would put forward their own envoy to the United Nations.

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Isaczai sent his accreditation request on Wednesday, Haq said, a day after the new General Assembly session started.

Dozens of world leaders are traveling to New York next week for the annual UN gathering and Isaczai is currently scheduled to address the final day of the meeting on Sept. 27.

UN credentials are dealt with by a nine-member committee appointed annually. The committee, named on Tuesday, is made up of the Bahamas, Bhutan, Chile, China, Namibia, Russia, Sierra Leone, Sweden and the United States.

The committee traditionally meets in October or November to assess the credentials of all UN members before submitting a report for General Assembly approval before the end of the year.

The committee and General Assembly usually operate by consensus on credentials, diplomats said.

Until a decision is made Isaczai will remain in the seat, according to the General Assembly rules.

When the Taliban last ruled between 1996 and 2001 the ambassador of the Afghan government they toppled remained the UN representative after the credentials committee deferred its decision on rival claims to the seat.

The decision was postponed “on the understanding that the current representatives of Afghanistan accredited to the United Nations would continue to participate in the work of the General Assembly,” according to the committee report.

Guterres said last month that the Taliban’s desire for international recognition is the international community’s only leverage to press for inclusive government and respect for rights, particularly for women, in Afghanistan.

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