Thai coup puts Sathirathai's UN chances at risk
The coup against Thai PM definitely complicates the candidacy of his deputy to be the next UN Secy-Gen.Updated: Sep 21, 2006 19:42 IST
The coup against Thailand's prime minister definitely complicates the candidacy of his deputy to be the next UN Secretary-General, China's UN ambassador said.
The race to succeed Secretary-General Kofi Annan, whose second five-year term ends December 31, is one of the hottest behind-the-scenes issues at the current ministerial session of the UN General Assembly.
Thailand's 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 ministerial meeting.
He was in New York with Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra when the military launched a bloodless coup on Wednesday, and he reportedly flew to London with the prime minister on 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 Assembly.
But China's UN Ambassador Wang Guangya said "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 on the 38th floor of the U.N. Secretariat building to Asia on January 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 Karzai.
First Published: Sep 21, 2006 15:15 IST