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UN Chief Announces Re-election Bid

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon talks to a patient in a hospital in Abuja, Nigeria (File Photo)

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has formally announced that he is seeking a second five-year term as the world’s top diplomat. Ban could be reconfirmed as U.N. chief as early as this month.

For months now, U.N. corridors have been buzzing that the secretary-general would seek re-election, but when asked, Ban has always remained coy on the topic. On Monday, he told reporters he still has a lot of work to do and publicly announced his intention to run for a second term after his current term ends on December 31.

“This morning, I sent a letter to the membership of the General Assembly and the Security Council, offering humbly, myself for consideration for a second term as secretary-general of the United Nations," he said. "It has been an enormous privilege to lead this great organization. If supported by the member states, I would be deeply honored to serve once more.”

Ban said the past four-and-a-half years have marked a period of extraordinary challenges for the United Nations and the international community, and throughout, the United Nations has been at the forefront trying to lead on a variety of issues and crises.

Earlier in the day, the secretary-general met with delegates from the 53 member-Asia Group, which must endorse his candidacy because the choice of secretary-general rotates by region and is still currently held by Asia.

China’s U.N. Ambassador Li Baodong said Ban has demonstrated strong leadership and a vision for a better world and a better United Nations. He explained why the secretary-general has the backing of the Asian countries.

“We endorsed his decision for re-election for next term as secretary-general,"he said. "The reason is that he has led this organization to manage through stormy weather and troubled water and to let this organization play a more important role for international affairs.”

Pakistan’s Ambassador Abdullah Haroon told reporters that Ban announced his candidacy to the Asian Group during a lengthy speech in which he reported on his activities over the past four-and-a-half years. He also addressed personal letters to each head of state of the Asia Group asking for their support.

No other candidate has emerged to challenge Ban, and diplomats say it is likely the Security Council will recommend that he be reconfirmed for a second term as early as the end of this month. It is important he have the Council’s support, particularly the five permanent members - each of whom has the power to veto his appointment - but that is not expected to happen.

Ban told reporters he would meet with ambassadors from other regional groups representing all of the U.N. membership on Monday and Tuesday to explain his vision and priorities for the next five years.

Ban Ki-moon took over the helm of the world body on January 1, 2007 from Kofi Annan. During his tenure he has made climate change, disarmament, gender inequality and peace and security among his top priorities.

A near-constant traveler, he has personally extended U.N. and international support to countries in crisis, visiting China and Haiti after devastating earthquakes and meeting survivors of Cyclone Nargis in Burma, as well as going to conflict zones including Iraq, Afghanistan, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ivory Coast and the Gaza Strip.

Ban’s critics say he has not been as outspoken as he should be on issues such as human rights and complain that his “quiet diplomacy” has failed in reigning in the world’s dictators and despots.

Ban will turn 67 years old on June 13. Prior to becoming U.N. chief, he served as South Korea’s foreign minister.