Goh v. Surakiart in the G-77

Rumors that members of the G-77 may move to nominate Singapore’s former prime minister Goh Chok Tong during the group’s meeting next week in New York prompted quick responses from both Thailand and Singapore yesterday.

Thai Foreign Minister Kantathi Suphamongkhon said… “What is clear is that Thailand’s candidate is backed by Asean and we will move ahead with that,” he said in a telephone interview with the media from Washington where he is on an official visit to the US.

Likewise, the Singapore foreign ministry issued reassurances that Thai UNSG candidate Surakiart Sathirathai continued to have the full support of the Singapore government.

Singapore’s Foreign Ministry stated categorically on Wednesday that the Singapore government supports Thai Deputy Prime Minister Surakiat Sathirathai’s candidature for the post of the next United Nations Secretary General. It said the government formally expressed its support in writing for Mr Surakiat’s candidature in August 2004. And in September 2004, Singapore joined other ASEAN countries in endorsing his candidature at the informal ASEAN Ministerial Meeting in New York.

A nomination with the backing of the G-77 - which now includes 133 member governments, including all 10 members of ASEAN - is not likely. The organization will tread softly, perhaps taking the same path as the Non-Aligned Movement in firmly committing to an Asian nominee but not restricting its members to vote for a particular candidate. However, if a significant number of G-77 members merely encourage Goh to enter the race, Surakiart’s chances would be furthered strained than they are now.

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