Former Australian Prime Minister Rudd seeks top UN post | News | DW | 18.07.2016
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Former Australian Prime Minister Rudd seeks top UN post

Former Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has announced that he wants to succeed Ban Ki-moon as the next UN secretary-general. He has asked the cabinet in the capital, Canberra, to endorse his nomination.

Australia's foreign minister, Julie Bishop, confirmed Rudd's bid on Monday.

"Kevin Rudd has requested that the Australian government nominate him and, as the prime minister has indicated on a number of occasions, that will be a matter for the cabinet," Bishop told Sky News.

Newly re-elected Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull named a little-changed cabinet on Monday after two ministers, Assistant Cabinet Secretary Peter Hendy and Assistant Minister for Innovation Wyatt Roy, lost their seats in the July 2 elections. The new cabinet will be sworn in on Tuesday. Industry Minister Christopher Pyne is to become Minister for the Defense Industry.

Turnbull's coalition is split on whether to support Rudd, a member of Australia's opposition Labour party.

Several lawmakers in Australia's conservative government, including Immigration Minister Peter Dutton, have been openly hostile toward his bid.

"Kevin was never happy just running Australia - he believed he was always destined to run the world," Dutton said in April. "Kevin's ego makes (presumptive Republican presidential nominee) Donald Trump's look like a rounding error."

Rudd, a fluent Mandarin-speaker, is currently the president of the New York-based Asia Society Policy Institute. The 58-year-old has been trying to accrue diplomatic support around the world as well, although Bishop has become the first to confirm his plans to be a candidate.

UN Seceretary General Ban Ki-moon

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon's second five-year term is due to end in December

Rudd was elected Australian prime minister in the 2007 general election in a landslide defeat of John Howard, but in his first term was dumped by colleagues fed up with his style of management. After that, he became foreign minister, and later led the government again for three months in 2013 before losing at the ballot box.

A new process

A growing list of candidates have declared their interest in becoming the UN's top diplomat, including UNESCO chief Irina Bokova of Bulgaria, former UN climate chief Christiana Figueres, and former New Zealand Prime Minister and head of the UN Development Program Helen Clark.

Candidates must be nominated by their governments, and with a high volume of female candidates, a woman might become the next head of the UN. Eight of the 12 current nominees hail from eastern Europe, making it likely that this region will lead the United Nations in the future.

For decades, the choice of the UN chief has been in the hands of the Security Council and its five permanent member states - the United Kingdom, France, China, Russia and the United States - in a process largely kept hidden behind closed doors. But in 2015, the General Assembly voted to change the process, asking candidates to send a formal application letter, present their resumes and appear at hearings.

The final decision still rests with the Security Council, but the new approach could put some pressure on big world powers to pick a nominee with broader appeal.

ss/kms (AP, AFP, Reuters)

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