11 July 2024

The United States will downgrade its diplomatic relations with Myanmar upon the departure of its current ambassador, VOA Burmese reported Thursday.

It quoted an unidentified diplomatic source as saying that US Ambassador Thomas Vajda’s assignment is scheduled to conclude at the end of this month and the administration of President Joe Biden has decided not to send a successor.

“Deputy Chief of Mission Deborah Lynn will assume duties as charge d’affaires at [the] US Embassy Rangoon after Ambassador Vajda’s departure,” the source said on condition of anonymity to discuss a matter not yet officially announced by the State Department.

Vajda arrived in Myanmar in January 2021, just before the democratically elected government of Aung San Suu Kyi was ousted.

The previous US ambassador to Myanmar, Scot Marciel, told VOA that the US doesn’t want to present credentials to the ruling military junta, formally known as the State Administrative Council (SAC).

“The main point is that a new US ambassador would have had to present his or her credentials to the SAC, most likely to Min Aung Hlaing. That would have created the impression that the US was conferring legitimacy on the junta, which Washington doesn’t want to do. The junta would have used the photos to claim legitimacy. This isn’t a break in relations but rather a downgrading, similar to what happened in the early 1990s, he said.

Marciel served as the US ambassador to Myanmar for four years from 2016 to 2020. But Vajda, his successor, has served a little less than two years.

Most Western countries including Britain and Australia also downgraded diplomatic ties with Myanmar in order to avoid signing agreements that would amount to official recognition of the regime that ousted the elected National League for Democracy government in February 2021.