Shashi Tharoor, India's nominee in the race for the top job in the United Nations, has been replaced as Under-Secretary-General for Communications and Public Information by Kiyotaka Akasaka of Japan.
Tharoor's replacement was announced Friday as part of a reshuffle "to achieve continuity with change" by the new UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. He named four new senior officials to his cabinet while retaining a dozen others.
Ban who took office on Jan 1, also named a United States diplomat as chief political officer, a Chinese veteran of international organizations to head economic and social affairs, and an Egyptian diplomat to oversee General Assembly management.
"In making these decisions, the Secretary-General has taken into account various factors, among others the need to apply change with continuity, ongoing discussions on restructuring plans and the need to promote mobility at all levels," Ban's Chef de Cabinet, Vijay Nambiar, told a press briefing here.
The Secretary-General "is conscious that he needs to take advantage and in a sense leverage the experience that is there; he is also conscious of the need to build new talent and experience," he said in response to questions on the selections.
Tharoor's replacement was widely expected following his loss to Ban in the race for the top UN job though the Indian author diplomat had himself said that "If he (Ban) feels that there is an honourable role for me, then I will continue for another period. Or if there is no meeting of minds, I will leave and continue to support UN from outside."
His diplomatic career began in 1978, when he joined the staff of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees. Separately, he had a prolific career as a writer, turning out nine fiction and non-fiction books. The last of these was "Bookless in Baghdad".
Tharoor was among several top officials whose resignations have been accepted. Ban had sought resignation from all Under-Secretaries-General and Assistant Secretaries-General to give him flexibility in choosing his team.
Tharoor, one of the six contenders in the race to succeed former secretary general Kofi Annan,stood second in the informal fourth UN straw poll. He got 10 votes in favour, three against - one of which was a veto-holding member - and two 'no opinions'.
Soon after the results, Tharoor announced his withdrawal and his support for Ban who got 14 votes, including support from all five Permanent Security Council members.
Shashi Tharoor's successor Kiyotaka Akasaka is currently Deputy Secretary-General of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). He has been closely involved throughout his career with the work of multilateral organisations.
Akasaka was Deputy Director-General in the Japanese Foreign Ministry's Multilateral Cooperation Department from 1997 to 2000, participating as one of his country's top negotiators in the Kyoto Conference on Climate Change and various other international conferences. Between 2000 and 2001 he was Japan's UN Ambassador.
He has also held posts at the Secretariat of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT), precursor of the UN World Trade Organisation (WTO), and at the UN World Health Organization (WHO). He has held a number of positions in the field of communications and public relations, serving in the Japanese Foreign Ministry as Deputy Director of the Press Division and spokesman on climate change. He has also been deeply involved in OECD public information activities.