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Ban Ki-moon reelection campaign gathers pace

UNITED NATIONS - Agence France-Presse | 6/5/2011 12:00:00 AM |

Ban Ki-moon's campaign for a second term as UN leader was set to gather pace Monday, when he is expected to formally announce that he wants to stay on as secretary-general, diplomats have said.

Ban Ki-moon’s campaign for a second term as United Nations leader was set to gather pace Monday, when he is expected to formally announce that he wants to stay on as secretary-general, diplomats have said.

With no declared rival for the post and none of the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council opposing Ban, the 66-year-old former South Korean foreign minister is certain to get a new five-year term, envoys said.

His current mandate ends Dec. 31, but the U.N.’s five permanent Security Council members, Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States, want to see the selection process handled quickly, diplomats said.

Ban will hold a press conference Monday, following a meeting with the Asian group of countries at the United Nations, at which he is expected to announce his formal candidacy.

Approval by the 15-member Security Council and then a vote at the 192-country U.N. General Assembly should then be pushed through by the end of June, according to U.N. envoys.

“It is 100 percent certain he will get the post again,” said one envoy from a Security Council member.

Ban made a quiet start to his term as the successor to Kofi Annan in 2007. Some envoys say his awkward English has not helped his image. He championed the battle against global warming but the collapse of the 2009 Copenhagen climate summit was a blow.

He also insists that quiet diplomacy is sometimes necessary but has been criticized by rights groups for not speaking out more forcefully against abuses in major countries like China.

Ban suffered particular criticism from rights groups for not speaking publicly about China’s detention of Nobel Peace Prize winner Liu Xiaobo last year.

But he has been praised by Western nations for his strong stance on the Ivory Coast crisis and defending protesters taking part in the uprisings that erupted this year across the Middle East and North Africa.

He has repeatedly contacted Moammar Gadhafi of Libya, Bashar al-Assad of Syria and Ali Abdullah Saleh of Yemen by telephone in recent months, chiding them as diplomatically as possible for not giving their people more freedom.

The action annoyed China and Russia, which oppose what they consider unjustified interference in a country’s domestic affairs.

“But he is skilled at acting and speaking in a way so that no one of the permanent five [Security Council powers] can really complain,” said a U.N. diplomat.

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