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Dhanapala's UN hopes alive

india Updated: Sep 06, 2006 16:30 IST
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Sri Lanka's candidate for the post of UN Secretary General, Jayantha Dhanapala, is not discouraged by the fact that he finished last in Monday's secret straw poll among the 15 members of the Security Council.

"The results are not definitive. The poll gives no indication as to what the ultimate choice will be," Dhanapala told Hindustan Times here on Thursday.

The real vote will be taken only in October. 

Dhanapala said that the number of votes in the "No Opinion" category indicated the possibility of changes in his favour at a later date.

"The early front runners may fall out of favour. And current views may not translate themselves into actual votes," he said. 

In the "secret" poll, the UNSC members had been asked to check mark ballot papers, which only read "Encourage", "Discourage" and "No Opinion".

And there was no way of knowing which country voted for whom, and how the five permanent members, with a veto each, voted.

Dhanapala pointed out that all the four candidates had got "discourage" votes and said that this was pregnant with possibilities.

"If one of the voters in this category is a Permanent Member, it may mean a veto," he said.

"Boutros Boutros Ghali got 14 out of 15 votes, but a veto prevented him from getting selected finally," Dhanapala recalled.

In 1996, the US used its veto to stall Ghali from getting the customary second term.

In the latest straw poll, the front runner was the South Korean Foreign Minister, Ban Ki-Moon, with 12 "encourage" votes, one "discourage" vote and two "no opinion" votes (or 12:1:2).

Sashi Tharoor of India got 10:2:3; Surakiart Sathirathai of Thailand got 7:3:5 and Jayantha Dhanapala of Sri Lanka got 5:6:4.

The Colombo-based Daily News on Thursday quoted James A Paul, Executive Director of the New York based Global Policy Forum, which monitors the day to day activities of the UN, as saying that the straw polls were "early exercises" and any speculation based on them would not take one very far.  

However, the US, the most important factor in the United Nations, does not seem to be so dismissive.

Speaking to the media in the UN after the poll, the US envoy to the United Nations, John Bolton said: "The individual candidates who have declared now have to examine these results and decide what their next step is.

And others who have been considering whether to become candidates can look at the results and decide whether they will now enter the race."

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