S. Korean is front-runner in race for UN secretary-general

Monday vote may determine who's next top UN official.

By MICHAL LANDO
October 1, 2006 06:50
2 minute read.
S. Korean is front-runner in race for UN secretary-general

Ban Ki-Moon 248.88. (photo credit: AP)

 
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South Korea's foreign minister, Ban Ki-Moon, appears to be the most likely choice to succeed UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, although that could change before the next vote on Monday, according to UN officials. In an informal ballot held Thursday, Ban was the only candidate to receive the required majority from the Security Council, diplomats said. He received 13 "encourage" votes, one "discourage" and one of "no opinion," according to wire reports. India's candidate, UN Undersecratary-General for Public Information Shashi Tharoor, came second followed by Thailand's Deputy Prime Minister Surakiart Sathirathai, Jordan's UN Ambassador Prince Zeid al Hussein, and former UN disarmament chief Jayantha Dhanapala of Sri Lanka. Unlike the vote Thursday, Monday's poll will have different rules. This time ballots will be color coded to differentiate between the permanent and elected members of the Security Council and will clarify who is likely to become the next UN Secretary General. To win the approval of the 15-member Council, a candidate must receive nine votes, and must not be vetoed by any of the five permanent members - China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Because the informal vote is only intended to measure where the Security Council stands, the results are not determinative. On Friday, one candidate, former UN disarmament chief Jayantha Dhanapala, withdrew his candidacy. US representative to the UN, John Bolton, said he expected other such changes before the next vote on October 2, which will clarify Thursday's results. "I would not be surprised if there are not other changes in the remaining universe of candidates," Bolton said. "Some others might withdraw, or others may enter." "A lot depends on decisions that existing or potential candidates might make, but there is no doubt that we are approaching a critical decision," Bolton said. Asked what he thought about additional candidates joining the race now, Bolton said that "from the start the council was looking for the broadest pool of candidates worldwide." But, he also acknowledged that time was of concern, since Annan steps down December 31. "We want to have this decision made in a fashion that will give the incoming secretary-general an adequate period of transition," Bolton said. "If anyone wants to be considered, they need to come forward quickly." In the past there have been three secretaries-general from Western Europe, two from Africa, on from Latin America and one from Asia. There has not yet been a secretary-general from Eastern Europe, nor has there been a female elected to this position. According to a statement by UN Watch, the African and Asian groups have agreed that it's Asia's turn, and together they hold a majority of General Assembly seats - 107 out of 192 members.

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