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S Korea trying to buy UN top job?

To ensure Ban's win, Seoul is pumping millions of dollar into Africa and luring a few UNSC members, reports The Times.

india Updated: Oct 03, 2006 11:10 IST

South Korea is reportedly offering millions of dollars to African countries and 'incentives' to UNSC members, in a bid to secure its candidate Ban Ki Moon's victory in the next UN Secretary General poll, The Times reported.

Moon is South Korea's Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade and the front-runner to replace Kofi Annan as UN chief.

The investigation found that the South Koreans have been waging an aggressive campaign on behalf of Moon to ensure his victory.

The 'inducements' range from tens of millions of pounds of extra funding for African countries to lucrative trade agreements in Europe - and even the gift of a grand piano to Peru, reported the paper.

Moon announced his bid to the top UN post in February, and has since been criss-crossing the globe trying to win support for himself.

A month later the South Korea Government announced that it would treble its aid budget to Africa to 100 million dollars by 2008.

Seoul then contributed tens of thousands of pounds to sponsor this year's African Union summit in the Gambia in July, when Ban declared 2006 to be "the Year of Africa" for South Korea.

One of the fortunate recipients among African countries has been Tanzania, which currently has a seat on the Security Council.

In May, Moon visited Tanzania and pledged 18 million dollars for an educational programme and also promised to carry out a road and bridge project in the western part of the country.

Between 1991 and 2003 South Korean grants to Tanzania totalled 4.7 million dollars. Seoul's generosity seems to have worked.

In return to the largesse offered by South Africa, Tanzanian Ambassador to Tokyo and Seoul Elly Matango on Thursday committed his country's to support the South African candidate.

South Korea has however denied that it was using foreign aid as a means of buying votes in the Security Council.

"I would like to stress that the allegations against Ban Ki Moon and, moreover, the integrity of the Korean Government, do not correspond with the facts," In Joon Chung, the spokesman for the South Korean Embassy in London was quoted as saying.

He added that Seoul had decided in 2002 to increase aid to the developing world.

He added that the state visit to Greece was planned a year ago because Athens had been an ally of Seoul in the Korean War.

Meanwhile, in a new secret ballot by the UN Security Council Moon's prospects received a dent on Thursday night when he slipped back as far as the number of UNSC votes is concerned.

While he remained the clear front-runner, he received support from only 13 of the 15 council members - one fewer than in the previous ballot.

According to the report, a further ballot is likely to be held on Monday, with coloured cards to show if the negative vote comes from a veto- bearing permanent member.

Britain and France both appear to harbour hopes that new candidates will still emerge.

The other candidates in the fray are: Surakiart Sathirathai, the ousted Deputy Prime Minister of Thailand; Shashi Tharoor, a senior Indian UN diplomat; Prince Zeid Raad Zeid al Hussein, the Jordanian Ambassador to the UN; Jayantha Dhanapala, a former Sri Lankan official and UN diplomat; Ashraf Ghani, the former Afghan Finance Minister; and President Vike-Freiberga of Latvia.