By Matthew Russell Lee
UNITED NATIONS, September 18 -- Nearly all of the current candidates to replace Ban Ki-moon as UN Secretary General, and those who have dropped out, are active or at least have accounts on Twitter. Now Antonio Guterres, ahead in the straw polls but with “Discourages” which may well include a Russian veto, has joined Twitter. Is it really him? How will he use the account?
Vuk Jeremic has tweeted a photo with his grandmother, and of the plane that will fly him to UNGA 71. Irina Bokova tweeted a photo of herself with Forest Whitaker.
Helen Clark, ever active, has been tweeting from the NAM meeting in Venezuela; she has also tweeted, or really been re-tweeted by, Ban Ki-moon's son in law Siddharth Chatterjee, to whom Ban gave the top UNDP job in Kenya without recusing himself.
Clark's UNDP has yet to answer who was on the slecction panel, despite multiple Press questions to Clark's former (and Ban's current) spokesman Stephane Dujarric.
Ban Ki-moon, tellingly, has no twitter account. In fact, under him this year the UN ousted and evict the most active social media journalist in the UN, now confined to minders. But we digress!
Amid the jockeying to replace Ban Ki-moon as UN Secretary General, there has been revisionism and outright mis-reporting of what happened ten years ago when Ban was chosen as a suitably weak Secretary General.
Then, in 2006, there were only four candidate in the first straw poll. Even bland Ban drew a “discourage,” which he insisted was from Ghana. (Ban's theory was that Ghana's Kofi Annan preferred Shashi Tharoor to continue his legacy, as some surmise Ban would prefer a cover-up artist this time.)
Last week Inner City Press asked current Council member Venezuela about Kristalina Georgieva jumping in; Ambassador Rafael Ramirez told Inner City Press, “It's too late.” Vine here.
In 2006 Prince Zeid of Jordan jumped in late in the process, as did Latvia's president, drawing a not-embarrassing seven “Encourages.” Many say Sri Lanka convinced its candidate to withdraw to help Ban, who repaid the favor by covering up 40,000 deaths in 2009 and since.
The US, according to its them Ambassador John Bolton, cut the deal on Ban with China, and chided the UK to not demand the Department of Political Affairs job (the UK lost it.) Bolton writes that he told Ban to demand the resignations of all high UN officials. That is even more needed this time, particularly in the Department of Public Information (become Censorship), Peacekeeping and others.
In 2006 there was only one round of polling with colored or differentiated ballots, in early October, and it was sent to the General Assembly the next week. And this time, after October 3? Watch this site.
In the fourth straw poll for Next UN Secretary General,Antonio Guterres and Miroslav Lajcak stayed in first and second place (with 12 and ten encourages, respectively) despite statements commitments to a female SG.
In fact, the top four finishers were all men -- Vuk Jeremic came in third with nine encourages and Srgjan Kerim fourth, with eight. Then Susana Malcorra and Irina Bokova tied with Danilo Turk, all with seven encourages. Helen Clark had six, Christiana Figueres five, and Natalia Gherman but three. So much for commitment to women.
UK Ambassador Matthew Rycroft said the "absolute minimum" is nine encourages and no vetoes, so some should drop out, he implied. Inner City Press Vine here.
Here are the September 9 results:
Antonio Guterres 12-2-1
Miroslav Lajcak 10-4-1
Vuk Jeremic 9-4-2
Srgjan Kerim 8-7-0
Irina Bokova 7-5-3
Danilo Turk 7-6-2
Susanna Malcorra 7-7-1
Helen Clark 6-7-2
Christiana Figueres 5-10-0
Natalia Gherman 3-11-1
Compare to the August 29 third straw poll results:
Antonio Guterres: 11-3-1
Miroslav Lajcak: 9-5-1
Vuk Jeremic: 7-5-3
Irina Bokova: 7-5-3
Susanna Malcorra: 7-7-1
Srgjan Kerim: 6-7-2
Helen Clark: 6-8-1
Danilo Turk: 5-6-4
Christiana Figueres: 2-12-1
Natalia Gherman: 2-12-1
In the run-up to the third straw poll for Next UN Secretary General to be held later today, New Zealand which will be president of the Council in September announced it will cede Next SG powers to Russia, which will also hold the Council presidency in October.
As we await clarification, candidate Helen Clark is now in Cameroon, after a stop at TICADIV in Kenya, where Ban Ki-moon has named his own son in law head of the UN system without even recusing himself. New Zealand's Key is quoted that “Obama has a lot of respect for Helen Clark 'but we'll see how it goes.'”
In related conference news, Susana Malcorra is promoting the “IV Reunión Extraordinaria de la Red Iberoamericana de Organismos y Organizaciones contra la Discriminación.”
Vuk Jeremic by contrast comes to New York for the voting - perhaps smart, given the specific targeting of his candidacy from Kosovo last week.
On August 23 Inner City Press asked August's Council President, Ramlan Bin Ibrahim of Malaysia, to explain this; he said to wait for “the breakfast,” on September 1, for it to be formally presented.
Meanwhile another candidate has dropped out: Igor Luksic of Montenegro. His letter is here. Along with Vuk Jeremic of neighboring Serbia, he was once of the younger and more articulate of the candidates -- including answering the Press on his budget back on April 12.
Now since Luksic followed through -- too rare in the today's UN -- we'll follow up as well: Luksic has disclosed that his “travel expenses during the campaign were 34,626.44 euros and costs related to the preparation and presentation of his vision statement and the platform at different events were 24,204.89 euros,” for a total of 58,831.33 euros. Will the other candidates disclose?
At the other end of the spectrum, on August 25 Inner City Press asked outgoing SG Ban Ki-moon's spokesman Stephane Dujarric if Ban had even bothered to recuse himself when his own son in law Siddarth Chatterjee was made the UN system's (and UNDP's) Resident Representative in Kenya. No. Is this acceptable? Would the candidates to succeed Ban do this? Watch this site.
As noted, Susana Malcorra met with the European Union in New York And more recently met with Angola); Christalina Figueres was in Mali. As we've asked all candidates, who is paying for that trip? Last week the Lancet inquired how the race may impact global health; watch this site.
The third straw poll for Next UN Secretary General is now set for Monday, August 29, UN Security Council president Malaysia told the press on August 12. It will still not involved color ballots which would allow one ot know if a candidate's discourages involve permanent, veto-holding members. Periscope video here.
The second poll happened on August 5, leaving frontrunner Antonio Guterres now with two discourages. Inner City Press' Periscope video here. Second round, compared to previous:
Antonio Guterres: 11-2-2 (prev 12-0-3: one encourager left, P5 discourager(s) came out)
Vuk Jeremic: 8-4-3 (prev 9-5-1: one less encourage, one less discourage, no opinion grows)
Susana Malcorra: 8-6-1 (prev 7-4-4: one more encourage, but two more discourage)
Danilo Turk: 7-5-3 (prev 11-2-2: four encouragers leave, three more discourage: ouch)
Irina Bokova: 7-7-1 (prev 9-4-2: two less encourage, three more discourage)
Srgjan Kerim 6-7-2 (prev 9-5-1: three less encourage, two more discourage)
Helen Clark: 6-8-1 (prev 8-5-2: two less encourage, three more discourage)
Then with no comparison for discretion and feelings, Christiana Figueres 5-8-2), Natalia Gherman (3-10-2), Luksic, Lajcak - could there be a replacement?
The Security Council's decision sources tell Inner City Press may well not come until October, when Russia holds the monthly presidency of the Council.
While Antonio Gutteres led in the first round, sources tell Inner City Press not only of P5 in his “no opinions” but also of the idea floated of Guterres as a Deputy Secretary General, along the lines of today's Jan Eliasson. There's been outreach to Bulgaria. Inner City Press again hearkens back to Ban Ki-moon rejecting Guterres' request for a mere one year extension at UNHCR. Is it pay-back time?
On that front, while FYROM's Srgjan Kerim did better than expected in the first round, now there are detractors pointing back to a scandal while he was President of the General Assembly, in which his driver was found with big time (but not Iran-sized) cash, 750,000 euro, on the Hungarian border. Inner City Press reported it at the time, and has been multiply contacted since.
On the issue of dual nationality, first reported by Inner City Press, outgoing Council member Spain is said to have two stealth nationals in the race (and, as reported, a desire to keep an Under Secretary General spot despite what its Cristina Gallach has mis-done with the Department of Public Information: perhaps Disarmament this time). Which other Council members are asking for high posts from candidates? Watch this site.
And then there were eleven, running for Next Secretary General of the UN. Former Croatian foreign minister Vesna Pusic on August 4 dropped out, saying the results of the first straw poll show that the Security Council members want an insider.
This comes after the anticipated expansion of the field to 13 with Kevin Rudd did NOT happen; Rudd was Turnbulled. But there are still others out there. And the issue of dual citizenship, involving Spain, is still in the mix. The second straw poll is set for August 5 and Inner City Press, barring further censorship by Ban Ki-moon and Spain's highest UN official Cristina Gallach, will be there.
As the UN Security Council on July 21 held its first closed-door straw poll on the 12 current candidates to replace Ban Ki-moon as UN Secretary General, Inner City Press asked UK Ambassador Matthew Rycroft if it was too late for Australia's Kevin Rudd or others to get into the race. Video here. Rycroft replied that it is not too late, candidates can enter after the first straw poll pursuant to the Council's earlier letter.
Inner City Press understands that some Security Council members are reaching out to still unannounced candidates beyond the current 12 and Rudd. Meanwhile, Council sources indicate that among ostensible frontrunner Gutteres' three “no opinions,” a Permanent Five member's veto waits. Inner City Press is told France supports Irina Bokova, but there is opposition within the other P3.
So the real politik frontrunners: Danilo Turk and Helen Clark, in this view. But others may loom.
On the dual nationality front, we immediately report that Vuk Jeremic approached Inner City Press on July 28 to deny what some Council sources floated about his dual nationality. Jeremic states he is Serbian, only Serbian. Noted duly, and immediately.
Inner City Press asked Ukraine's Ambassador if the issue of Crimea arose in the Council's interviews. He responded that a candidate's position on it will determine Ukraine's support. And obverse, of course, is also true. We'll have more on this. The second straw poll is set for August 5.
Below from multiple sources are the results of the first straw poll; Inner City Press can also exclusively report that questions have arisen about dual nationality of some candidates, including Christiana Figueres and Susana Malcorra (Italy / Spain), beyond their listed countries which nominated them. It should be noted that the UN's “PHP” forms require such disclosures.
On July 25, Ukraine's Permanent Representative to the UN emerged from a closed door consultation of the Security Council and told the press that the second straw poll, which had been scheduled for July 29, would not be held then, but instead in the first week of August. Asked if he wouldn't be on vacation, he said no. And the others? Or, les autres?
After Ukraine said no second straw poll this week, Malaysia's Ambassador when asked said, No final decision. So does the Eastern Europe Group want a delay, to regroup?
Kevin Rudd continues to push to get into the race, and Susana Malcorra has complained of the results being leaked. There's talk of “strategic voting” -- which Permanent Five members were among the three “no opinions” on Gutteres? How could a country have no opinion of the long time UNHCR chief?
From multiple sources, results of the first straw poll, in the format of Encourage - Discourage - No Opinion:
Antonio Guterres: 12-0-3
Danilo Turk: 11-2-2
Irina Bokova: 9-4-2
Srgjan Kerim 9-5-1
Vuk Jeremic: 9-5-1;
Helen Clark: 8-5-2
Miroslav Lajcak: 7-3-5
Susanna Malcorra: 7-4-4
Christiana Figueres: 5-5-5
Natalia Gherman: 4-4-7
Igor Luksic: 3-7-5
Vesna Pusic: 2-11-2
After the straw polling, Ambassadors said no comment and it went well; Council President Koro Bessho said much the same on UNTV. Inner City Press asked him if the actual results had been given to the President of the General Assembly. Bessho began to say yes, then clarified, no.
At least he took Press questions. The candiates most recently appeared in an event for which the UN did not even provide a UNTV camera at the stakeout so these qustions culd be asked. Inner City Press wasBanned from streaming Periscope from the exit of the General Assembly hall after the event.
The "frontrunner" Antonio Gutteres is the one without a Twitter account; the runner-up Danilo Turk to his credit wants whistleblower Kompass back in the UN.
It's worth remembering that Gutteres was dissed by Ban Ki-moon when he asked for one more year atop UNHCR. Sources say Malcorra and Andrew Gilmour, recently promoted without proper process, were involved in the decision on Gutteres. Revenge? Or just more of Ban's bad judgment, like he and his head of "Public Information" Cristina Gallach evicting Inner City Press as it covers the UN?
US Ambassador Samantha Power, who took no questions, named issues for the Next SG, from counter-terrorism to the sustainable development goals.
One wondered if the Obama administration has conferred with Hillary Clinton on its position - and what would happen if the Security Council hasn't decided later in the Fall and the US presidential race is still open.
French Ambassador Francois Delattre said counter-terrorism is a separate issue; one wanted to ask him if France is as before linking Next SG to an Under Secretary General position, different this time than the UN Peacekeeping that Herve Ladsous has nearly destroyed.