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South Korean steps closer to becoming UN leader
Cat : International Conferences
Date : 2006-10-01 16:58:02                      Reader : 245

REUTERS 1/10/2006

South Korean steps closer to becoming UN leader

 

By Warren Hoge

UNITED NATIONS, New York Ban Ki Moon, the South Korean foreign minister, has moved significantly closer to becoming the successor to Kofi Annan as UN secretary general by maintaining a wide lead over six other candidates in the Security Council's third informal poll.

The poll was held Thursday. A fourth and more definitive informal poll is scheduled for Monday, and Ban, with 13 favorable votes from the 15 council members, goes into that poll as the only candidate with the nine votes required for approval.

On Monday, the ballots of the five permanent members - Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States - will be a different color than the others, a way of determining whether any nation with veto power has exercised it. Barring a veto or the 11th hour introduction of a new candidate, Ban's election in a subsequent formal vote appears assured.

"I am encouraged by the level of support I received, and I hope that eventually I will have unanimous support," Ban said Thursday by telephone from Seoul after his return from New York.

Ban, 62, has traveled widely as he has campaigned for the secretary general position over the past six months. But questions have arisen about how effective his modest and soft-spoken style would be in bringing discipline and coherence to such a sprawling and rivalry-ridden organization as the United Nations.

"I now realize that some people regard me as a person with a soft leadership," he said. "But I have been telling them that while I may look soft and have a sense of humility and speak in a restrained manner, this should not be regarded as a lack of determination or commitment."

"Some people have a different aspect," he said. "They speak loud and have a more flamboyant attitude. But I think I have my own charisma."

Ban has a master's degree from the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, was assigned twice to the South Korean Embassy in Washington and is a former director general of American affairs for South Korea's Foreign Ministry.

He has the firm backing of the Bush administration and is known as an ally of Washington. If he gets the job, that part of his political makeup will be closely monitored at the United Nations, where tensions between the United States and the developing world have been on the rise.

"I have many friends in the United States, and I think this can be a great asset for me instead of a point of concern for others," he said. "The countries in the Third World, in Africa, the Middle East, Southeast Asia and Latin America, they know that I am their close friend, too."

Annan steps down Dec. 31 after two five-year terms. Under UN procedures for choosing a secretary general, the Security Council selects one name and sends it to the 192-member General Assembly for ratification.

Six of the seven candidates are Asian, in keeping with the unwritten but accepted notion at the United Nations that this year it is Asia's turn to occupy the top job.

The last Asian secretary general was U Thant of Burma, who left office in 1971.

In the informal polls, the 15 members of the council have been asked to mark one of three boxes - "encourage," "discourage" or "no opinion" - after each candidate's name.

Ban's latest total actually decreased by a vote compared with the tally from the previous secret poll on Sept. 14, because one positive shifted to no opinion. But his lead widened over his closest challenger, Shashi Tharoor, 50, the undersecretary general for public information, who saw his support diminish to eight favorable votes from 10.

Vaira Vike-Freiberga, 68, the president of Latvia, a new entry and the only woman under consideration, polled seven favorable votes. The other new candidate, Ashraf Ghani, 57, a former finance minister of Afghanistan and the current chancellor of Kabul University, attracted only three.

Surakiart Sathirathai, 47, deputy prime minister of Thailand, saw his positives fall to five from nine. There had been speculation that he would lose support after the Sept. 19 coup in Thailand. Both Prince Zeid al-Hussein, 42, Jordan's ambassador to the United Nations, and Jayantha Dhanapala, 67, of Sri Lanka, a former undersecretary general for disarmament, drew only three positive votes. On Friday, Dhanapala withdrew his candidacy.

UNITED NATIONS, New York Ban Ki Moon, the South Korean foreign minister, has moved significantly closer to becoming the successor to Kofi Annan as UN secretary general by maintaining a wide lead over six other candidates in the Security Council's third informal poll.

The poll was held Thursday. A fourth and more definitive informal poll is scheduled for Monday, and Ban, with 13 favorable votes from the 15 council members, goes into that poll as the only candidate with the nine votes required for approval.

On Monday, the ballots of the five permanent members - Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States - will be a different color than the others, a way of determining whether any nation with veto power has exercised it. Barring a veto or the 11th hour introduction of a new candidate, Ban's election in a subsequent formal vote appears assured.

"I am encouraged by the level of support I received, and I hope that eventually I will have unanimous support," Ban said Thursday by telephone from Seoul after his return from New York.

Ban, 62, has traveled widely as he has campaigned for the secretary general position over the past six months. But questions have arisen about how effective his modest and soft-spoken style would be in bringing discipline and coherence to such a sprawling and rivalry-ridden organization as the United Nations.

"I now realize that some people regard me as a person with a soft leadership," he said. "But I have been telling them that while I may look soft and have a sense of humility and speak in a restrained manner, this should not be regarded as a lack of determination or commitment."

"Some people have a different aspect," he said. "They speak loud and have a more flamboyant attitude. But I think I have my own charisma."

Ban has a master's degree from the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, was assigned twice to the South Korean Embassy in Washington and is a former director general of American affairs for South Korea's Foreign Ministry.

He has the firm backing of the Bush administration and is known as an ally of Washington. If he gets the job, that part of his political makeup will be closely monitored at the United Nations, where tensions between the United States and the developing world have been on the rise.

"I have many friends in the United States, and I think this can be a great asset for me instead of a point of concern for others," he said. "The countries in the Third World, in Africa, the Middle East, Southeast Asia and Latin America, they know that I am their close friend, too."

Annan steps down Dec. 31 after two five-year terms. Under UN procedures for choosing a secretary general, the Security Council selects one name and sends it to the 192-member General Assembly for ratification.

Six of the seven candidates are Asian, in keeping with the unwritten but accepted notion at the United Nations that this year it is Asia's turn to occupy the top job.

The last Asian secretary general was U Thant of Burma, who left office in 1971.

In the informal polls, the 15 members of the council have been asked to mark one of three boxes - "encourage," "discourage" or "no opinion" - after each candidate's name.

Ban's latest total actually decreased by a vote compared with the tally from the previous secret poll on Sept. 14, because one positive shifted to no opinion. But his lead widened over his closest challenger, Shashi Tharoor, 50, the undersecretary general for public information, who saw his support diminish to eight favorable votes from 10.

Vaira Vike-Freiberga, 68, the president of Latvia, a new entry and the only woman under consideration, polled seven favorable votes. The other new candidate, Ashraf Ghani, 57, a former finance minister of Afghanistan and the current chancellor of Kabul University, attracted only three.

Surakiart Sathirathai, 47, deputy prime minister of Thailand, saw his positives fall to five from nine. There had been speculation that he would lose support after the Sept. 19 coup in Thailand. Both Prince Zeid al-Hussein, 42, Jordan's ambassador to the United Nations, and Jayantha Dhanapala, 67, of Sri Lanka, a former undersecretary general for disarmament, drew only three positive votes. On Friday, Dhanapala withdrew his candidacy.



 
 
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