China: Coup Complicates UN Race
In the United Nations, China's UN ambassador said the
coup complicates Thaksin's candidacy to be the next UN
The race to succeed Secretary-General Kofi Annan,
whose second five-year term ends Dec. 31, is one of
the hottest behind-the-scenes issues at the UN General
Thai Deputy Prime Minister Surakiart Sathirathai was
the first candidate to enter the race, and he won
backing from the 10-member Association of Southeast
Asian Nations at last year's General Assembly
Surakiart was in New York with Prime Minister Thaksin
Shinawatra when the military launched a bloodless coup
Tuesday. He flew to London with the former prime
minister, and was due back in Thailand Thursday.
"The interim government has already said that they
continue to back Dr. Surakiart as the
secretary-general," Sihasak Phuangketkeow, the Thai
Foreign Ministry's deputy permanent secretary said
after a meeting on the sidelines of the General
But China's UN Ambassador Wang Guangya said Wednesday
that, "I think definitely the situation in Thailand
makes this issue more complicated."
Traditionally, the United Nation's top job rotates
every 10 years by region.
Africa, in theory, should have handed over the
secretary-general's spacious office to Asia on Jan. 1,
2002. But Annan was selected for a second term in
2001, in part because Asia could not agree on a
candidate, giving Africa an unprecedented 15 years at
the helm of the world body.
When Annan was elected, African and Asian nations
agreed that the next secretary-general should be
Asian, though US Ambassador John Bolton has said the
job should go to the best-qualified candidate.
There are currently seven candidates and more could
emerge. The newest, Afghanistan's former finance
minister Ashraf Ghani, officially entered the race on
Wednesday when he was nominated by President Hamid
The Afghan government said Ghani, the chancellor of
Kabul University who spent 10 years working in China,
India and Russia for the World Bank, "is uniquely
equipped" to lead the UN now, when imagination and
leadership are needed to promote security and
In addition to Surakiart, he faces South Korean
Foreign Minister Ban Ki-moon; UN
undersecretary-general for public affairs Shashi
Tharoor of India; Jordan's UN Ambassador Prince Zeid
al Hussein; former UN disarmament chief Jayantha
Dhanapala of Sri Lanka; and Latvian President Vaira
Vike-Freiberga, the only non-Asian.
In an informal, secret poll of the 15 Security Council
members on Thursday, before Vike-Freiberga entered the
race, South Korea's Ban came in first followed by
India's Tharoor. Surakiat was third, with Jordan's
Zeid fourth and Dhanapala fifth.
Thailand's Sihasak said "ASEAN has indicated that they
continue to back Surakiart as the new
"I think the strength of Dr. Surakiart is first of all
his qualifications. Second Thailand, our country, has
always played a moderating role in international
affairs, a bridge builder," he said.