Sri Lanka’s candidate for the powerful post of United Nations Secretary General vowed yesterday he would continue his campaign despite reportedly poor showing in the so-called straw poll conducted among Security Council members last week.

Dr. Jayantha Dhanapala, former UN Undersecretary General in charge of disarmament, told the Sunday Times that he considered the straw poll as only a preliminary indication process and not a sign of any definitive trend.According to reports from New York, Dr. Dhanapala was placed fourth in the so-called straw poll on Monday after South Korea’s Ban Ki-Moon, India’s Shashi Tharoor and Thailand’s Surakiart Sathirathai.

Dr. Dhanapala who only got five votes of encouragement in the straw polls said the race and the process were continuing and he with the support of his country would intensify the campaign. Diplomatic sources in New York were making an educated guess on how the 15 countries in the Security Council could have voted in the straw poll for Sri Lanka’s candidate.

They said the five encouragements for Dr. Dhanapala were from China, Congo, Ghana, Qatar and Tanzania while those who gave a vote of discouragement were Argentina, Denmark, France, Greece, Slovakia and the UK — with Japan, Peru, Russia and US remaining neutral.

Argentina has for long not voted with Sri Lanka, especially after Sri Lanka’s vote with Britain over the Falklands invasion in the 1980s when the entire Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) bloc voted with Argentina.

Peru had thought to play safe, while Russia appears to have adopted a wait-and-see approach. Japan and the US have opted to stay clear for the time-being, according to these sources.

Under UN Charter rules, the secretary-general is elected by the 192-member General Assembly under recommendation from the Security Council, with the five permanent members – the US, China, France, Britain and Russia – having veto powers on the issue.

Diplomatic sources said the council hoped to have the appointment wrapped up by October.

-Sunday Times

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