Boutros Boutros-Ghali “suspended” his candidacy for re-election as U.N. secretary-general on Wednesday, a move that diplomats here said clears the way for selection of a new U.N. leader more acceptable to the United States.
The United States, which invoked its rarely used Security Council veto power Nov. 19 to block Boutros-Ghali’s re-election, welcomed Wednesday’s announcement. “It’s going to allow the names of other well-qualified African candidates to come forward and be considered by the Security Council,” White House spokesman David Johnson said in Washington.
The U.N. Security Council, charged with nominating the secretary-general, is expected to begin considering alternative candidates Friday and could make a selection as early as Monday, council sources said. Priority will be given to candidates from Africa, and the names of three nominees from that continent already have been informally circulated among council members, the sources added.
Italian Ambassador Francesco Paolo Fulci, the council president for December, announced Wednesday that Boutros-Ghali “intends to suspend his candidature for the time being,” allowing the council to consider other nominees.
Boutros-Ghali told reporters Wednesday: “I’m still a candidate and still the only candidate for Africa,” adding that he was merely asking the Security Council “not to vote again on my name until I will present my name” again.
But other sources here characterized Boutros-Ghali’s announcement as a graceful way for him to bow out. Other candidates had been reluctant to come forward while Boutros-Ghali continued to actively seek re-election.
Boutros-Ghali, 74, would be the first secretary-general denied a second five-year term. Although he won the backing of 14 of the 15 Security Council members on Nov. 19, the United States was able to torpedo him single-handedly as one of five permanent council members given veto power by the U.N. Charter. U.S. Ambassador Madeleine K. Albright argued that Boutros-Ghali is not sufficiently committed to reforming the U.N. bureaucracy and that a new secretary-general is needed.
The three names informally circulated Wednesday were U.N. Undersecretary-General Kofi Annan of Ghana, head of the organization’s peacekeeping arm; Ivory Coast Foreign Minister Amara Essy, who was president of the U.N. General Assembly in 1994-95; and former Nigerian Prime Minister Hamid Algabid, secretary-general of the Organization of the Islamic Conference.