Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Shashi Tharoor pulls out of UN race

Shashi Tharoor pulls out of UN race: "India's nominee Shashi Tharoor has pulled out of the race for the post of the next UN Secretary General. The decision came after the South Korean Foreign Minister Ban Ki-Moon emerged a clear winner in the fourth straw polls.

"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 to the UN Wang Guangya. With that statement outside the UN Security Council on Monday evening, Shashi Tharoor’s hopes to become the next UN Secretary General were dashed.

Under the UN's system for electing its secretary general, Monday’s coloured-card straw poll was considered the make or break moment. It was an overwhelming poll in favour of the South Korean Foreign Minister. 14 of the security council’s 15 members gave their encouragement for Mr Ban, and only 1 country abstained.

Shashi Tharoor only managed 10 encouragements, and 3 against. but he most importantly received a discouragement from a permanent member, effectively a veto. Although its unclear who the veto came from for Mr Tharoor, sources in the UN have speculated it was from the US.

Tension between the UN and the USA has been on the rise with major differences over the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, the crisis in Lebanon recently, as well as the on going confrontation with Iran. The US, which had so far been silent on who it would support in the race for Secretary General, came out in open support of Ban after the final straw poll.

"We have a lot of respect for Foreign Minister Ban. We know him well from his service in Washington and here in New York and think very highly of him professionally and personally," said John Bolton, US Representative to the United Nations.

There were a total of six candidates in Monday's poll. All apart from Ban received at least one discouragement from a permanent member of the Security Council. The Security Council is expected to move to a formal vote in Mr Ban’s favour next week. Kofi Annan, will complete his second five-year term at the end of the year and its widely considered Asia's turn to hold the post of secretary general.

Seven months of campaigning seem to have helped Ban Ki Moon. His popularity and key role in the six party talks on North Korea's nuclear programme outweighed both Tharoor's campaign as well as allegations that South Korea was buying influence on the UNSC.

Now unless a new candidate enters the race this week, it is almost certain that Ban Ki Moon will be the next UN Secretary General."

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