Jordanian, Afghan candidates drop out of race for next UN chief 2006-10-05 05:18:43

     UNITED NATIONS, Oct. 4 (Xinhua) -- Jordan's UN Ambassador Prince Zeid al-Hussein and Afghanistan's former Finance Minister Ashraf Ghani decided on Wednesday to drop out of the race for the next UN secretary-general.

    In a letter to the president of the UN Security Council, Zeid offered warmest congratulations to Ban Ki-Moon, the candidate of South Korea who ranked first in the latest straw poll and is likely to be endorsed as the next secretary-general.

    Ban's "considerable diplomatic skill and distinguished background augurs brightly for the future of the United Nations, and the Security Council must be applauded for having exercised its judgment wisely," Zeid said.

    Meanwhile, Ghani congratulated the council, in a letter to the president, on reaching consensus on the next secretary-general.

    Zeid and Ghani are the third and fourth candidates to withdraw their candidacy for the post. Sri Lanka's presidential advisor Jayantha Dhanapala is the first to withdraw after a third straw poll held last week.

    Immediately after the latest informal ballot, Indian Shashi Tharoor, the current UN undersecretary-general for public affairs, announced he was dropping out of the race because Ban was the winner.

    At this stage, there are altogether three candidates on the list besides Ban, including Latvian President Vaira Vike-Freiberga, and Thailand's former Deputy Prime Minister Surakiart Sathirathai.

    The Security Council is scheduled to hold a formal vote on Monday before sending its recommendation of a candidate to the General Assembly for approval. Enditem

Editor: Mu Xuequan
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