South Korean candidate Ban Ki Moon led in “enouragements” today in the first straw poll for UNSG, with Tharoor, Surakiart following and Dhanapala in last place.
Each government signaled its preferences by marking on secret ballots whether they would “encourage” each candidate, “discourage” him, or had “no opinion.” Ban and Tharoor were informed in person and Dhanapala and Surakiart were phoned by Security Council President Jean-Marc de La Sabliere with their individual tallies and the highest and lowest tallies. Despite being asked afterward in several different ways, Ambassador de La Sabliere refused to officially reveal the results, but jokingly told reporters that,
“To be sure anonymity is respected, we all had the same pen… So no one can know exactly…”
U.S. Ambassador John Bolton noted in speaking with reporters that there was no differentiation in the voting between permanent and non-permanent members, a rule he suggested nonetheless “is not neccesarily true for future straw polls.”
Bolton commented that the four candidates would now be able to judge whether to continue in the race and others who may be considering joining the race may do so. On the question of regional rotation, Bolton suggested that President Bush was merely stating “the common wisdom” last week, that the U.S. position on regional rotation was “unchanged” and that ”…now it’s up to candidates whether they are from Asia or from other regions to make a decision whether to have a member government put their name forward.”
Bolton stepped back from his comments Friday that stating the U.S. preference would be a “kiss of death,” saying instead that “to give an indication really may or may not advantage the candidate(s) that we most favor.”
The only names considered today were those which had received a formal nomination by a member government. A source at the French mission mentioned that Niranjan Deva, a member of the European Parliament but with strong ties to Sri Lanka, attempted to get a meeting with Ambassador de la Sabliere as President of the Security Council, but was firmly rebuffed.
No reaction yet from Surakiart or Dhanapala’s campaigns. Surakiart’s endorsement by ASEAN was reaffirmed just this week, and Dhanapala has been considered a “rising star” hoping to recruit UK Prime Minister Tony Blair to help “inject the kind of passion” needed in promoting the UN.
Another straw poll will not take place until late August, noted the French official, also adding that ”We would like to see new candidates before then.”