Thu, Oct 05, 2006 - Page 5 News List

Security Council to back Ban as prince withdraws


The UN Security Council will meet next Monday to formally endorse South Korean Foreign Minister Ban Ki-moon as its choice to become the next UN secretary-general, its president said on Tuesday.

Japan's UN Ambassador Kenzo Oshima, the council president for this month, made the announcement as his Jordanian counterpart, Prince Zeid al-Hussein, informed him that he was pulling out of the race to succeed Kofi Annan as UN chief.

Prince Zeid, 42, extended his "warmest congratulations" to Ban, who on Monday secured crucial backing from the council's five veto-wielding permanent members while decisively winning his fourth informal straw poll in a row.

"I wish Foreign Minister Ban the very best of success as he now prepares himself to meet the many challenges of tomorrow," the Jordanian envoy said in a letter to Oshima made available to reporters here.

On Monday, UN undersecretary general for communications and public information Shashi Tharoor of India, who placed second in the poll, conceded defeat and threw his support behind Ban, who is now virtually assured of becoming the eighth UN secretary-general once Annan steps down in late December after 10 years in office.

Under the UN Charter, the secretary-general is elected by the 192-member General Assembly on the recommendation of the Security Council.

After its formal vote next Monday, the Security Council is widely expected to recommend that the General Assembly endorse Ban as Annan's successor.

Prince Zeid, a cousin of Jordan's King Abdullah II and at 42 the youngest of the seven candidates to Annan's succession, failed to attract broad support from council members. His best showing in the council's informal polls was fourth place.

But his candidacy touched off a diplomatic row after Qatar, the lone Arab member of the Security Council, decided to back Ban.

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