September 30, 2006 16:31 IST
India's Shashi Tharoor's bid for United Nations secretary-generalship may stand a chance with a report claiming that South Korea was spending millions of dollars in aid and offering other incentives to Security Council members to get support for its candidate Ban Ki Moon.
In its aggressive campaign on behalf of Ban, the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade and the front-runner to succeed Kofi Annan, Seoul has been offering 'inducements ranging from tens of millions of pounds of extra funding for African countries to lucrative trade agreements in Europe-and even the gift of a grand piano to Peru,' The Times has reported.
South Korea, according to the report, has denied that it was using foreign aid as a means of buying votes in the Security Council.
"I would like to stress that the allegations against Ban Ki Moon and, moreover, the integrity of the Korean Government do not correspond with the facts," In Joon Chung, the spokesman for the South Korean Embassy in London [Images], said.
He said Seoul had decided in 2002 to increase aid to the developing world.
Sixty-two year-old Ban announced his bid in February and has since been criss-crossing the globe trying to win support. A month later, the report said, South Korea announced that it would treble its aid budget to Africa to $100 million by 2008 and added that Seoul then contributed tens of thousands of pounds to sponsor this year's African Union summit in the Gambia in July, when Ban declared 2006 to be 'the Year of Africa' for South Korea.
One fortunate recipient was Tanzania, which currently has a seat on the Security Council, it said.
When Ban arrived in May he pledged $18 million for an educational programme and also promised to carry out a road and bridge project in western Tanzania, it said, adding that between 1991 and 2003 South Korean grants to Tanzania totalled $4.7 million.
Seoul's generosity seems to have worked. On Thursday, Elly Matango, the Tanzanian Ambassador to Tokyo and Seoul, said that his government had decided to support Ban.
In August, South Korea signed cooperation agreement with Peru and donated a grand piano to the Inca cultural centre, the report added.
Ban's prospects received a dent when he slipped back in a new secret ballot by the Security Council on Wednesday. While Ban remained the clear front-runner, he received support from only 13 of the 15 Council members -- one fewer than in the previous ballot. One council member voted against him and another abstained.
A further ballot will be held on Monday, with coloured cards to show if the negative vote comes from a veto-bearing permanent member. Britain and France [Images] both appear to harbour hopes that new candidates will still emerge, the report said.
Besides 50-year-old Tharoor, UN's Under-Secretary General for Communications and Public Information, other candidates include Surakiart Sathirathai, the ousted Deputy Prime Minister of Thailand, Prince Zeid Raad Zeid al-Hussein, the Jordanian Ambassador to the UN and Ashraf Ghani, the former Afghan Finance Minister and President Vike-Freiberga of Latvia.
In the secret ballot, barring Ban, none others have received the nine positive votes necessary to be elected. It is broadly accepted at the UN that the winning candidate should be an Asian citizen because the last incumbents were African, Arab, South American and European. It is also the custom that none of the permanent members of the Security Council -- the US, Britain, China, France and Russia [Images] -- stands for the post.
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