Ban Ki-moon leads contest for next UN Secretary-General: Poll

Tuesday, October 3, 2006

Ban Ki-moon

South Korean foreign minister Ban Ki-moon emerged as the likely successor to United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan yesterday when an unofficial poll of Security Council members resulted in Ban being the only candidate to avoid a possible veto by one of the five permanent members of the council.

A formal ballot to choose the next Secretary-General has been scheduled for October 9. The Security Council's recommendation will then go to the UN General Assembly for ratification which is usually a formality. Annan's term ends on December 31, 2006.

The 15 members of the council voted "encourage", "discourage" or "no opinion" beside each candidate's name on Monday's straw vote. The ballot was secret, however the five permanent members of the council who have veto rights, the United Kingdom, United States, France, China and Russia, voted on a blue ballot paper in order to demonstrate which candidates, if any, could escape a veto in the formal vote.

Ban received 14 "encourage" votes, 1 "no opinion" and no "discourage" or veto votes. Every other candidate received a veto from one of the five permanent members. Ban, 62, has won all four Security Council straw votes which have been held over the past several months but Monday's vote was the first straw poll which distinguished votes by veto-wielding permanent members of the Security Council from votes cast by the other ten members.

Following the release of the vote results, India's Shashi Tharoor announced his withdrawal as a candidate saying of Ban "It is clear that he will be our next secretary general."

"It is a great honour and a huge responsibility to be secretary-general, and I wish Mr Ban every success in that task," said Tharoor.

Tharoor had placed second in the race receiving 10 "encourage" votes and three "discourages", one of which was from a country with a veto.

"It is quite clear that from today's straw poll that Minister Ban Ki-moon is the candidate that the Security Council will recommend to the General Assembly," said Chinese ambassador Wang Guangya.

Thailand's Deputy Prime Minister Surakiart Sathirathai and former Afghan Finance Minister Ashraf Ghani each received four votes in favour. Ghani had three vetoes against him and Surakiart two.

The fifth candidate, Prince Zeid al-Hussein of Jordan had only two votes in favour and eight against, with one veto.

Monday's vote was not binding.