African nominations kick off the selection of new UN chief
Saturday 07 December 1996
The nominations by Ghana, Mauritania, Niger and Ivory Coast, the first, mean that the process of choosing a new secretary general - akin to a high-stakes poker game - can at last begin in earnest. Concern has been deepening at the UN that unless the deadlock is overcome quickly, the council may fail to settle on a replacement before the month's end when Mr Boutros-Ghali's term expires.
There is also barely disguised anxiety, not least in the European missions here, that the UN, under pressure from the clock and from the US, may be on course to select a new secretary-general who may be considerably less effective or competent that Mr Boutros-Ghali. That could be the ironic and entirely counterproductive result of America's determination to ditch the Egyptian, some diplomats say.
Britain, which has been playing a fairly passive game until now, is especially unsettled. As one of the five permanent members of the Security Council, Britain sees the UN as the last world institution where it has pre-eminent influence. It has been dismayed by the recent slide in the UN's fortunes and standing and believes that its hopes for renewal are linked to finding a first-class leader.
It was a bad week for Mr Boutros-Ghali, who announced that he was "suspending" his candidacy, but keeping himself in reserve in case no agreement is reached on someone else. The choice of Madeleine Albright, US ambassador to the UN, as US Secretary of State, can hardly help him.
The Africans, who by UN tradition can expect to have one of their own as secretary-general for the next five years, had been under intense pressure from the US and Britain to accept the inevitability of Mr Boutros-Ghali's fate and come up with alternative names. France, which appears increasingly to be holding the losing hand, had hoped to pressure the Africans to stick by him. Divisions were still visible at a French-African summit in Burkina Faso which ended yesterday, attended by African heads of state and President Jacques Chirac. The President of Burkino Faso, Blaise Campaore, spoke out again for Mr Boutros-Ghali. President Nelson Mandela of South Africa, by contrast, is said to be backing Tanzania's Salim Salim, the Secretary- General of the Organisation of African Unity.
Of all the African names being put forward, the most credible may be that of Kofi Annan. An urbane and soft-spoken Ghanaian with a Swedish wife, he is at present in charge of peace-keeping in the UN Secretariat. He is widely liked within the UN and is thought to have the backing of the US. Because of that American support, he is vulnerable, however, to a veto from France.
The other Africans nominated included Ahmedou Ould Abdallah of Mauritania, a former UN special representative in Burundi; the former prime minister of Niger, Hamid Algabid, Secretary General of the Organisation of the Islamic Conference, and the Foreign Minister of Ivory Coast, Amara Essy.
If consensus does not build quickly around an African, Britain will push for candidates from other regions to be considered, with Mrs Sadako Ogata, of Japan, who heads the UN High Commission for Refugees, a strong possible contender.
- 1 What happens to your body when you give up sugar?
- 2 Ed Miliband less influential than One Direction's Louis Tomlinson by official Doncaster power list
- 3 Japanese island overrun with cats after population explodes
- 4 Delhi bus rapist blames dead victim for attack because 'girls are responsible for rape'
- 5 Have sex with your iPad thanks to the new sex toy no-one asked for
California teacher appears to have hanged herself in her classroom
The City of the Monkey God: Archaeologists claim to have found city lost for 1,000 years in remote Honduran jungle
Ed Miliband less influential than One Direction's Louis Tomlinson by official Doncaster power list
Japanese island overrun with cats after population explodes
Delhi bus rapist blames dead victim for attack because 'girls are responsible for rape'
'Jihadi John': CAGE representative storms off Sky News accusing Kay Burley of Islamophobia
Durham Free School: 'Creationism taught at' free school facing closure
Ukip would cut billions from Scottish budget to fund English tax cuts
Nearly 100,000 of Britain's poorest children go hungry after parents' benefits are cut
End of the licence fee: BBC to back radical overhaul of how it is funded
Ukraine crisis: Top Chinese diplomat backs Putin and says West should 'abandon zero-sum mentality'
£18000 - £23000 per annum + OTE: SThree: SThree are a global FTSE 250 business...
£16000 - £46000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join ...
£9 - £13 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This is a great opportunity to join a s...
£25000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Have you got a proven track rec...