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Who Will Replace Kofi Annan?
Indian and South Korean candidates both in the running for U.N. secretary-general
Rajen Nair (rajennair)     Print Article 
Published 2006-07-29 15:46 (KST)   
The competition for the post of U.N. secretary-general has boiled down to South Korea vs. India.

In a straw poll held recently among the 15 Security Council members, the result produced two leading candidates, South Korean Foreign Minister Ban Ki-moon and Shashi Tharoor, the present U.N. under-secretary, from India.

In an informal poll, council members checked one of three boxes for each candidate: "encourage," "discourage," and "no opinion." The outcome was that no candidate got 15 "encourage" votes.

Ban came out on top, with 12 "encourage," one "discourage," and two "no opinion."

Tharoor came in a close second with ten "encourage," two "discourage," and three "no opinion."

Thailand's Deputy Prime Minister Surakiart Sathirathai, who was first to jump into the fray last year, fared poorly, with seven "encourage," three against and five "no opinion."

The worst performer was former U.N. Disarmament Chief Jayantha Dhanapath, who got only five "encourage," six "discourage," and four "no opinion."

Other possible candidates include Kemal Dervis, the Turkish chief of the U.N. Development Program, Jordan's Prince Zeid Al Hussein, and Goh Chok Tong, former prime minister of Singapore.

After the poll, Tharoor, in an e-mail response, expressed satisfaction with the outcome. He said:

"Considering I entered the race just a month ago and am the only candidate who hasn't visited all 15 capitals, I'm gratified to have received such support."

Concerning Ban, Tharoor said:

"I've the highest personal regard for Mr. Ban, but I believe I offer a genuine alternative -- a candidate from the South who can articulate a positive vision for a U.N. of the 21st century."

Shashi Tharoor hails from the state of Kerala. Besides running the affairs of the United Nations as its under-secretary, he is also a writer of repute. He has several books to his credit and made a name for himself authoring the non-fiction work The Great Indian Novel.

In 1998, he won the Excelsior Award for Literature from the Association of Indians in America. He was named Global Leader of Tomorrow by the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.

If elected, Tharoor has promised to focus on education for girls, because, according to him:

"As the saying goes, when you educate a boy, you educate a person. But when you educate a girl, you educate a whole family."

If Tharoor could make it to the coveted post of U.N. secretary-general, it would be a refreshing change to have a wordsmith who can use his creative skill to tackle the problems of this complex world.
©2006 OhmyNews
Other articles by reporter Rajen Nair

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