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Ban Leads Poll for Next U.N. Chief

Posted July. 26, 2006 03:01,   


At the straw poll cast by the members of the UN Security Council to elect the next secretary-general, Foreign Minister Ban Ki-moon received the most votes.

The Security Council held a plenary meeting on Monday (on Tuesday, Korean time) and cast a straw poll for the four candidates officially vying for the post. Right after the vote, France`s Ambassador to the UN and UNSC president for July Jean-Marc de la Sabliere called Ban personally to report that he got the most votes by receiving “12 ‘encourage,’ one ‘discourage,’ and two ‘no opinion.’”

Ban was followed by India’s Shashi Tharoor, the incumbent deputy director general at the UN information service, who received 10 “encourage,” two “discourage,” and three “no opinion.”

Thailand’s Deputy Prime Minister and Culture Minister Surakiart Sathirathai, supported by ASEAN, received seven “encourage,” three “discourage,” and five “no opinion.”

Sri Lanka’s Jayantha Dhanapala, the adviser to the president, received the lowest votes, with five “encourage,” six “discourage,” and four “no opinion.”

Some analyze that Ban got a head start on the upcoming secretary-general election by receiving the most votes at the straw poll. Others, however, warn not to exaggerate the meaning of the straw poll since it is just “a simple survey of the favor” of the Security Council’s 15 member states toward the candidates, who have officially declared their candidacy so far.

Some foreign news, citing the ambassadors to the UN, even reported that “the members of the Security Council have shown only a lukewarm response to the four candidates at the poll this time.”

The Security Council will resume the straw poll in September after the end of the vacation season, and confirm the next secretary-general by October at the latest.

The nominee for the next secretary-general, whose term begins next January, will, at least, have to receive more than nine votes from the council and subsequently will be ratified at the plenary meeting. Even a single veto from the five permanent members of the Security Council can invalidate the nomination. Thus, it can be a problem if the member state that cast a “discourage” vote on Ban is a permanent member of the council.

Jong sik Kong kong@donga.com