The U.S. drops a name

The Bangkok-based The Nation is reporting that the United States is pushing for Surakiart’s predeccesor to enter the race for UNSG. While the report is yet unconfirmed, it introduces a new twist to Surakiart’s beseiged campaign at a time when the military government, which announced continued support for Surakiart, is slowing losing the international PR battle.

The United States is poised to propose former foreign minister Surin Pitsuwan as the next UN secretary-general to replace Kofi Annan later this year, an informed source said yesterday.

The message has been relayed to coup leader General Sonthi Boon-yaratglin but Thailand remained tight-lipped, taking a wait-and-see approach at least until after the next straw vote among the 15-member UN Security Council (UNSC) in New York.

While the source suggests that the U.S. feels other permanent members - read, China - would also support Surin, the suggestion is likely based more in the U.S.’s own interests.

…Washington still thinks Surin is a better choice - because he is seen as a person better able to bridge the gap of misunderstanding between the West and the Muslim world.

As the report notes, Surin is a moderate Muslim and former foreign minister. He is also likely to be seen as “more” Asian than Washington’s reported other preferred choice, Prince Zeid of Jordan. Likewise, he may be more acceptable to China than Ashraf Ghani, given Afghanistan’s close ties to the United States.

2 Responses to “The U.S. drops a name”

  1. [...] Less than 24 hours after reporting that the U.S. was quietly encouraging Surin Pitsuwan, Thailand’s former Foreign Minister, to enter the race, The Nation is now suggesting there is yet another Thai candidate whom the P-5 wish would take Surakiart’s place. “The person right now being most mentioned and most likely to be recruited as UNSG by [the five permanent Security Council members] is Dr Supachai [Panitchpakdi] who is acceptable to all sides, moderate, and the right mix of outsider and insider,” the source said. [...]

  2. [...] if Ban’s performance continues to draw criticism. If “people in the circles of Susan Rice and Hillary Clinton [remain] very negative to Ban,” the United States-ASEAN summit later this month may provide them a chance to evaluate Pitsuwan as a possible replacement. U.S. officials were pushing for Pitsuwan to enter the race in 2006, according to the Bangkok newspaper The Nation, and believed his candidacy would have also received China’s support. [...]

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