Latvian President Vaira Vīķe-Freiberga, whom the Baltic governments had proposed as the next secretary general of the United Nations, announced Oct. 5 that she is withdrawing her candidacy.
The president thanked those who supported her candidacy and the principles that candidacy espoused, her press office said.
Vīķe-Freiberga, whose name had for months been mentioned as a possible contender to replace Secretary General Kofi Annan, officially announced her candidacy on Sept. 15. Two straw polls of Security Council members showed her placing third in a field of seven candidates. However, Ban Ki-Moon, foreign minister of South Korea, had the clear lead in those polls.
A formal vote on Ban to succeed Annan is expected Oct. 10. Annan’s term ends this year.
The president’s candidacy, the press office said, accented issues that had not been raised in choosing the next secretary general. While several nations were pushing for a candidate from Asia to succeed Annan, Vīke-Freiberga argued that the secretary general should be chosen based on their qualifications, not on gender or region. At the same time, her candidacy noted that the United Nations has never been led by either a woman or by anyone from Eastern Europe.
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