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South Korean, Indian candidates get boost in race for next U.N. chief
''It's good to have the best possible slate of candidates''
The Associated Press (apwire)     Print Article 
Published 2006-07-25 09:53 (KST)   
The South Korean and Indian candidates to become the next U.N. secretary-general got a boost when most members of the Security Council encouraged them to stay in the race.

The other two candidates who have formally announced their desire to succeed Secretary-General Kofi Annan--from Sri Lanka and Thailand--did not do as well, according to the informal poll Monday of the 15 Security Council nations. The results were obtained by The Associated Press.

The secret poll only gives the faintest indication of how the two top vote-getters--South Korean Foreign Minister Ban Ki-moon and Shashi Tharoor, U.N. undersecretary-general or public affairs--might fare when theformal election takes place later this year.

Candidates can come forward until the last minute, and the final vote is not expected until the fall. A ''no'' vote from one of the five veto-wielding permanent members can sink a candidacy.

In the informal poll, the 15 council nations checked one of three boxes for each candidate : ''Encourage,'' ''discourage,'' and ''no opinion.'' No candidate got 15 encouraging votes, meaning that any of the five permanent council members could have voted against the two best performers.

Ban did the best, with 12 council nations encouraging him to run, one discouraging him and two giving no opinion. Tharoor, who is India's candidate, was next, with 10 votes of encouragement, two of discouragement and three giving no opinion.

''Considering I've 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 a broad base of support in the Council,'' Tharoor said in an e-mail.The results for Thailand's Deputy Prime Minister Surakiart Sathirathai, who was the first to announce his candidacy last year, were more ambiguous. He got seven votes of encouragement, three against, and five of no opinion.

The worst performer was former U.N. disarmament chief Jayantha Dhanapala, who only got five votes of encouragement. Six council nations discouraged him and four expressed no opinion.

Most diplomats generally agree that the next secretary-general should come from Asia, part of a tradition to rotate between regions in awarding the job. The U.N. chief can serve two five-year terms.

Response has been tepid so far for the four announced candidates.

Some diplomats say the person who will become the eighth secretary-general in the United Nations' 60-year history has likely not yet emerged.

Publicly, however, they say they simply want as many candidates as possible.

''It's good to have a good slate of candidates, and it's good to have the best possible slate of candidates,'' said Britain's Deputy U.N. Ambassador Karen Pierce. ''So we respect all those here on the slate at the moment, and we'd expect to see others.'' Other possible candidates include Kemal Dervis, the Turkish chief of the U.N. Development Program; Jordan's Prince Zeid al-Hussein, who is his country's U.N. ambassador; and Goh Chok Tong, former prime minister of Singapore.

In the past, those who ultimately became secretary-general emerged late in the process or hardly even campaigned for the job.

That is partly because candidates become the object of intense diplomatic haggling between the five permanent members of the council--Britain, China, France, Russia and the U.S.

Annan, chosen in late 1996, was put forward as a last-minute compromise, while the Security Council selected Dag Hammarskjold in 1953 without telling him of his candidacy. Javier Perez de Cuellar was said to be vacationing on a beach in his native Peru when he heard he had been chosen in 1981.

There was noimmediate announcement that any candidate had dropped out.

''That's obviously a question for the candidates themselves to decide based on their own assessment of how the vote went,'' U.S. Ambassador John Bolton said.
By NICK WADHAMS
UNITED NATIONS
©2006 OhmyNews
Other articles by reporter The Associated Press

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