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Will there be a split in ASEAN support for UN Secretary General candidate?

Updated On: Feb 17, 2006

Several countries in Southeast Asia such as Indonesia and Singapore have reaffirmed their support for Thai Deputy Prime Minister and foreign Affairs Minister Surakiart Sathirathai as UN secretary general candidate, displaying their commitment towards the grouping.

This came after the announcement that South Korean Foreign Minister Ban Ki-moon would be a candidate for the top United Nations post, for reasons of resolving the nuclear dispute with North Korea.

According to the Singapore's Foreign Ministry, Mr Ban's candidacy would not affect ASEAN support for Thai Deputy PM Surakiart. “Surakiart is still favored by the 10-nation Association of Southeast Asian Nations” said the Ministry.

Similarly, Indonesia's Foreign Affairs Ministry said “We have a commitment to ASEAN to supporting Thai candidacy and will continue to maintain the commitment.”

In the Joint Communique of the 38th ASEAN Ministerial Meeting in July last year, ASEAN affirmed their strong support for Dr Surakiart from Thailand.

An ASEAN commitment is important to avoid a split in ASEAN in regards to UN candidacy. However, the question remains if there would be a split in Asia? A greater ASEAN integration would certainly enforce the level of commitment; Singapore and the Philippines have reiterated the need to step up efforts during a meeting between Philippine President Gloria Arroyo and Singapore Minister of Foreign Affairs George Yeo to discuss the ASEAN Charter, amongst other issues.

Besides Surakiart and Ban, the other Asian candidate is former UN disarmament chief Jayantha Dhanapala of Sri Lanka, who recently represented the government in peace talks with the Tamil Tigers. Asian candidate has a bigger chance as the position of UN secretary general rotates among five continents and supposedly, with Annan stepping down, the next SG candidate should come from Asia.

Sources:

Indonesia reaffirms backing for Thai candidate as UN chief, Channel News Asia, 15 Feb

S. Korean foreign minister unveils bid for top UN job, The Straits Times, 14 Feb

Indonesia Continues Supporting Thai FM Candidacy as UN Sec Gen, Bernama, 15 Feb

Singapore says Thai deputy PM remains ASEAN's `consensus candidate' for UN chief post, Khaleej Times, 16 Feb

Speed up ASEAN integration, say S'pore and Manila, The Straits Times, 16 Feb