New York, June 8 (IANS) Sri Lanka`s Jayantha Dhanapala is tipped as the man most likely to become the UN`s next secretary-general after Kofi Annan retires this year, while former US president Bill Clinton is seen as the least likely contender.

According to Foreign Policy journal, candidates in the race for the top UN job range from Dhanapala, the Sri Lankan presidential advisor with the most favourable odds of 6 to 1, to Clinton who stands a 1 in 1,000 chance, says the web edition of the prestigious journal.

Other `early leaders` it has named are Ban Ki Moon, South Korea`s minister of foreign affairs and trade, Surakiart Sathirathai, deputy prime minister and former foreign minister of Thailand, Kemal Dervis of Turkey who heads the UN Development Programme, Aleksander Kwasniewski, former president of Poland, and Vaira Vike-Freiberga, president of Latvia.

Dhanapala `is one of three men – all Asian – who have openly thrown their hats into the ring. Traditionally, the post has rotated from region to region, and Asia is next in line. (The last Asian who held the post was U Thant of Burma whose term expired in 1971.)

`Considered by many in the diplomatic community to be the frontrunner, the former under secretary-general for disarmament (Dhanapala) knows how to navigate the UN inside and out,` notes the journal.

However, when the pressing issue facing the world body is reform, being a familiar face at the UN may be a strike against him.

Also, as the former secretary-general of the Sri Lankan peace process, Dhanapala`s chances may be hurt by the rising conflict between the Sinhalese and Tamils in his island nation, according to the journal.

As for Clinton, the journal says: `Everybody loves Bubba. Since leaving office in 2001, the former US president has circumnavigated the globe countless times, spreading goodwill, helping tsunami victims in Asia, raising money to combat AIDS, and glad-handing everyone and everything within sight.

`He loves to talk. He loves to give speeches. He loves to hold court. What wouldn`t he like about the job’

However `He`s American. The UN secretary-general has never come from a permanent member of the Security Council.

`Plus, the current (US) president and (Clinton`s wife) Hillary may not agree about much, but neither wants to see the former president steal their thunder.`

 Source:  Associated Press