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Boutros-Ghali Suspends Candidacy for Secretary-General

December 5, 1996

UNITED NATIONS (AP) _ Faced with unrelenting U.S. opposition, U.N. Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali suspended his candidacy for a second term Wednesday, opening the way for new nominees for the top U.N. post.

Boutros-Ghali emphasized he still remains an official candidate, however, and supporters were said to be urging the Egyptian diplomat to stay in the race. The United States cast the lone veto against him in a first-round vote in the 15-member Security Council on Nov. 19.

``I’m still a candidate and still the only candidate for Africa,″ Boutros-Ghali said, adding he was merely asking the Security Council ``not to vote again on my name until I will present my name″ again.

In Washington, White House spokesman James Fetig welcomed Boutros-Ghali’s move, saying ``that will allow for other well-qualified African candidates to be forwarded to the U.N. Security Council for consideration.″

By U.N. tradition, Africa should get two consecutive terms for its representative as secretary-general.

The United States, however, announced last July that it would veto Boutros-Ghali’s re-election, claiming he had not been vigorous in pursuing reform. His supporters say the Clinton administration was bowing to pressure from conservative Republicans in Congress, many of them philosophically opposed to the United Nations as a challenge to U.S. sovereignty.

Security Council President Francesco Paolo Fulci said he expected African countries to submit names of alternative African candidates to the Security Council, possibly as early as Friday. That would be followed by a series of straw polls next week to winnow out weaker candidates.

Some U.N. sources, speaking on condition of anonymity, said supporters in Europe and elsewhere were encouraging Boutros-Ghali to stay in the race as a possible compromise if other Africans fail to win enough support.

A European diplomat characterized the decision as a face-saving move by Boutros-Ghali. By removing his name from active consideration, Boutros-Ghali would not have to see his support dwindle in a series of Security Council votes.

By remaining an official candidate, however, Boutros-Ghali conceivably could revive his candidacy if no one else wins broad support.

A senior U.S. official, speaking on condition of anonymity, drew a comparison with the council voting in 1981, when Tanzanian front-runner Salim A. Salim suspended his candidacy in the face of a U.S. veto.

The council ultimately selected Javier Perez de Cuellar as secretary-general.

``The natural process of breaking the logjam has continued,″ the U.S. official said. ``There has now been evidence of a desire on the part of some African states to select a different person.

``As far as the United States is concerned, we consider it a natural next step that will allow us to choose a new secretary-general,″ the official said.

Boutros-Ghali won 14 of the 15 council votes Nov. 19. But as one of the five permanent members, the United States has veto power in the Security Council, along with China, Russia, France and Britain.

Fulci said no other candidates had been officially submitted to the council. Council diplomats, speaking on condition of anonymity, said at least three African countries _ Ghana, Ivory Coast and Niger _ indicated they intended to put forth candidates.

They were U.N. Undersecretary-General Kofi Annan of Ghana, head of the U.N. peacekeeping operation; former Nigerian Prime Minister Hamid Algabid, secretary-general of the Organization of the Islamic Conference; and the Ivory Coast foreign minister, Amara Essy.

African leaders at the Organization of African Unity endorsed Boutros-Ghali’s re-election in their summit last July. Despite the U.S. veto, the Africans had been standing behind him _ in part because they would not agree on a new candidate.

Congolese Ambassador Daniel Abibi, who is chairman of the Africa Group at the United Nations, said he expected a decision to emerge from a meeting of French and African heads of state in Burkina Faso this week.

The United States has not endorsed a candidate. The U.S. battle to unseat Boutros-Ghali has stirred such animosity that many diplomats say a U.S. endorsement would scuttle any candidate.

The council must choose a secretary-general and forward the name to the 185-member General Assembly for ratification before Boutros-Ghali’s term expires Dec. 31. Assembly President Razali Ismail of Malaysia has urged the council to complete its work by Dec. 17.

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