Rudd requests new Aussie govt's backing for UN job

Former Aussie PM Rudd is among over a dozen high-profile candidates for the UN's top job.
Former Aussie PM Rudd is among over a dozen high-profile candidates for the UN's top job.

SYDNEY • Former Australian prime minister Kevin Rudd has officially requested the support of his country's new government to back his bid for the top job at the United Nations, according to Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop.

Mr Rudd, a fluent Mandarin speaker, had been rumoured to be garnering support to replace UN Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon when he steps down at the end of this year after a second five-year term.

"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," Ms Bishop told Australia's Channel 7 television yesterday. "I will certainly put the matter forward."

Mr Rudd, who is based in New York as head of policy institute Asia Society, was elected Australian prime minister in the 2007 general election in a landslide defeat of Mr John Howard. However, he was dumped in his first term by colleagues fed up with his style of management.

He became foreign minister in Ms Julia Gillard's government and then served again as Labor premier in 2013.

There are more than a dozen high-profile candidates vying for the position, including former UN climate chief Christiana Figueres; Unesco director-general Irina Bokova of Bulgaria; former Croatian foreign minister Vesna Pusic; and former New Zealand prime minister Helen Clark.

Ultimately, however, the UN Security Council's veto powers - the United States, Britain, France, Russia and China - have to agree on a candidate. There is no requirement for the five to pay attention to the popularity of candidates with the General Assembly.

Under an informal tradition of rotating the top post among regions, it is Eastern Europe's turn and eight of the current nominees are from there.

Mr Rudd, who is known for a fiery temper and keeping an almost super-human work ethic, would represent a departure from that tradition.

REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 19, 2016, with the headline 'Rudd requests new Aussie govt's backing for UN job'. Print Edition | Subscribe