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Can the job be his?

Officials hope that he will make it, writes Nilova Roy Chaudhury.

india Updated: Jun 29, 2006 17:57 IST

Still on the job: Kofi Annan He is by far the most dynamic general secretary UN has ever had. A tough decision-maker, he has seen the world body through several storms The ladder A career diplomat, Annan was born in Kumasi, Ghana, in 1938. Studied in Kumasi, Minnesota, Massachusetts and Geneva before joining the UN in 1962. He was posted with the WHO, the UN Economic Commission for Africa, UNHCR and at the New York headquarters.

Achievements

He bailed out the cash strapped global organi sation A trip to Washington for brought in funds. He streamlined the UN bureaucracy, slashing 1,000 of 6,000 posts But the feather in his cap was Iraq where he convinced the Iraqis in 1998 to co-operate with the UN weapons check COUNTRIES THAT are part of the P-5 and nations aspiring to become permanent UN Security Council members do not traditionally nominate candidates for the post of the UN’s top job.

But India decided to nominate under secretary general Shashi Tharoor as Kofi Annan’s successor when he retires as secretary general in December, at the request of the P5 members. Tharoor’s candidature is “not intended as a sop,” sources said, for delays in UN reforms that could lead to UNSC expansion. “It does not mean that India is giving up its aspirations for a permanent seat on the UNSC,” sources said.

India is said to have received “definite” assurances of support for the candidature, forcing the government to stick its neck out. But whether 52-year-old Tharoor becomes the next UN secretary general will need more than mere assurances of support.

By rotation, the top man should be from Asia this time and the three candidates — South Korea’s foreign minister, Ban Ki Moon, Thailand’s deputy Prime Minister Surakiart Sathirathai and Sri Lanka’s former envoy to the UN, Jayanta Dhanapala, have already forwarded their candidature.

The last (and the only) United Nation secretary general of Indian origin was Myanmar’s U Thant, almost four decades ago.

The five permanent representatives of the UNSC will “consider” Tharoor’s name (and those of other hopefuls) and arrive at a decision on July 15.

The name will be sent to the Gen eral Assembly for approval, before a vote around October-end.

Sources say while Tharoor’s chances are probably the best among the contenders declared so far, there is “no certainty” that he will ultimately be elected.

The reasons are many. For one, despite his experience with the UN, Tharoor is perceived as “way too young,” for the job, diplomats said. Moreover, he is also seen as close to Annan, who has incurred the wrath of several countries for not being able to establish UN’s supremacy — especially in Iraq.

But officials, are “more than hopeful” that Tharoor will make it, citing “assurances” from “influential” P-5 members.

A clearer picture will emerge over the next few months as officials said it was “much too early” yet to speculate.