BurmaNet News, October 7-10, 2006
editor at burmanet.org
Tue Oct 10 14:29:15 EDT 2006
October 7-10, 2006 Issue # 3062
AFP: Myanmar vows to 'crush' rivals as charter talks resume
Irrawaddy: Burmas National Convention resumes
The Independent: Suu Kyi marks 4,000 days as a prisoner
AFP: Myanmar 'regrets' losing Japan's support at UN
AFP: Yangon airport expansion almost complete: report
DVB: Famous astrologer reportedly detained for predicting the end of Burma
IMNA: Junta to select new village level administrators
BUSINESS / TRADE
Thai Press Reports: Foreign Ministry defends its role in Thailand's loan
Mizzima: US's Burma sanctions affect Indo-Burmese trade
Financial Times: Coup leaders name technocrats to cabinet
Mizzima: Jailed Burmese fishermen hope to return
AP: Security Council nominates South Korean foreign minister as next U.N.
October 9, Agence France Presse
Myanmar vows to 'crush' rivals as charter talks resume - Griffin Shea
Yangon: Military-ruled Myanmar on Tuesday launches a new round of
constitutional talks, vowing to "crush" opponents of the dragging process
in defiance of mounting UN pressure to make democratic reforms.
The junta's National Convention is supposed to be the first of seven steps
on a "road map" to democracy, but the talks have been boycotted by Nobel
peace laureate Aung San Suu Kyi's opposition party and derided by Western
countries as a farce.
In the run-up to the latest talks, the junta arrested six prominent
pro-democracy activists, and the information minister vowed to "crush" any
opponents to the process.
The arrests in late September came as the UN Security Council held
discussions on Myanmar, with the United States pressing to introduce a
resolution to force the junta to reform and to release Aung San Suu Kyi,
who is under house arrest in Yangon.
"We will crush whoever intends to destroy the National Convention," the
information minister, Brigadier General Kyaw Hsann, told reporters on
He refused to say if the junta planned to target Aung San Suu Kyi's
National League for Democracy, which won a landslide victory in 1990
elections but has never been allowed to take office.
But he accused them of "using a shortcut to grab power and to destroy the
National Convention" by asking to have talks with the military and to open
a parliament based on the results of the elections.
He also dismissed any possible UN action, saying: "We will not let the
national constitution process be harmed by the US-sponsored action at the
UN Security Council."
"We will continue as before. There is no rush or delay to the National
Convention because of it," he added.
Analysts say the threats and the latest arrests show the generals have
little concern for international pressure.
"The arrest (of the activists) is clearly an indication that the military
cares more about internal security than international punishment," said
Aung Naing Oo, a Myanmar analyst based in neighboring Thailand.
But he said the junta sticks with the convention process to try to prove
to its neighbors in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN)
that it is making steps toward democratic reform.
"They want to at least show to ASEAN and China that they are serious about
the road map and
the convention process," he said.
China has tried to support Myanmar on the UN Security Council, but even
Beijing has quietly urged some gesture to the international community,
Myanmar military analyst Win Min said.
"They have had some pressure from China... that they have to cooperate,"
"They will be trying to improve something for the Security Council, not
through the National Convention, but through some other process," he said.
The junta did allow UN deputy secretary general Ibrahim Gambari to visit
in May, with another visit planned for November.
And pressure from the UN's International Labor Organization did prompt the
junta to free two labor activists in June and July.
Win Min said the generals will not abandon their plan for a constitution
that enshrines their power behind the facade of a civilian government.
Sources close to the military say that is already happening, after junta
supremo Than Shwe decided last month to hand control of the military to
one of his deputies.
But Than Shwe kept political power over the government for himself,
apparently as a precursor to becoming some sort of president, the sources
The National Convention has been meeting on-and-off for 13 years, but has
yet to make any tangible progress.
The upcoming talks will cloister more than 1,000 handpicked delegates at a
resort-like military compound north of Yangon for about three months.
Analysts doubt this will be the last round, saying only the top generals
know when that could be.
"They can finish it in no time, or they can finish it two or three years
from now," Aung Naing Oo said.
"Thirteen years already... and it's still going on."
October 10, Irrawaddy
Burmas National Convention resumes - Kyaw Zwa Moe
Burmas military government resumed on Tuesday its 13-year-long National
Convention, tasked with drafting a constitution, without the participation
of the countrys main opposition groups, as hundreds of people in cities
across the country joined a new campaign in support of detained former
State-run newspapers earlier reported that more than 1,000 delegates would
attend the National Convention, which first convened in 1993. The
convention is the first of seven steps in the military governments
roadmap to democracy. No timetable has yet been given for proposed
Opposition groups inside and outside the country have strongly condemning
the convention. It is valueless, since it lacks democratic principles,
said Nyan Win, a spokesperson for Burmas main opposition party, the
National League for Democracy.
The NLD won a landslide victory following elections in 1990, but the
ruling junta refused to honor the results. The partys involvement in the
convention ended in 1995, when their delegates walked out in protest. The
NLD reiterated its opposition to the convention in 2004, prompting the
Shan Nationalities League for Democracy, Burmas largest ethnic political
party, to abandon the convention that year.
Restarting the sham National Convention, in defiance of the UN and the
people of Burma, will do nothing to solve Burmas problems, said Aung
Din, policy director for the US Campaign for Burma. The Burmese people
want real democracy, not a wolf in sheeps clothing.
Meanwhile, sources in Rangoon and Mandalay said that hundreds of people
have participated in a new campaign called White Expression by wearing
all white clothing. The campaign was launched on Tuesday by the 88
Generation Students group and will run until October 18.
The campaign is intended to push the military government to free all
political prisoners and initiate a genuine national reconciliation
process. The group, which is composed of former political prisoners,
planned its campaign a few days after authorities arrested its five
leadersincluding the most prominent leader, Min Ko Naingat the end of
Nyan Win said that all members of the NLD wore white clothing on Tuesday.
Well-known Burmese comedian Zarganar added that many young people could be
seen wearing white in downtown Rangoon, particularly in shopping malls. I
have seen many young people wearing white since this morning, Zarganar
told The Irrawaddy on Tuesday. I am also wearing white.
Tin Win Yi, an NLD member from Mandalay, said that many people there were
also joining the campaign.
Prior to the White Expression campaign, the student group began a petition
campaign to free their detained leaders. Nyan Win said that two of its
youth members were arrested last week after collecting signatures and
trying to send them to the student group.
Win Ko, a youth leader, and Than Win, both from the Moe Nyo township NLD
office, were arrested at a train station in their township while carrying
petition signatures to the 88 Generation Students group.
As of Saturday, some 120,000 signatures have been collected, according to
the student group.
October 10, The Independent (London)
Suu Kyi marks 4,000 days as a prisoner - Peter Popham
Another milestone in the long misery of the Burmese people passed
yesterday, when the democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi marked her 4,000th
day under house arrest.
We have no idea how she passed the day. Did she coax some notes out of the
ancient piano in the family villa on Rangoon's Inya Lake, where she was
first confined way back in 1988? Did she meditate or practise yoga, two of
the disciplines which we know have helped her to maintain her health?
There is no way of knowing because, apart from a maid, Suu Kyi is entirely
Perhaps she went out into the garden - it's hot and sticky in Rangoon this
week, with temperatures ranging from 75 to 84F and scattered thunderstorms
forecast - and took a scythe to the encroaching vegetation.
About the only thing we have learned since the last milestone, her 61st
birthday in June, is that she is no longer allowed help to keep the garden
in shape. In the tropics, that's a serious problem. Suu Kyi's supporters
fear there could be venomous snakes out there. The 4,000th-day milestone,
like all other news pertaining to Suu Kyi, found no mention in the
official news media of Myanmar, as the junta refers to the country. It is
said that the regime's strongman, Than Shwe, refuses to allow her name
even to be mentioned in his presence.
This week the regime has been allowing foreign journalists into the
country, which is unusual. The reason is that it wants to show the outside
world that the country is proceeding down the so-called "road map to
democracy" which it announced 13 years ago.
To try to quell the voices demanding that it hands over power to Suu Kyi
and her party, in 1993 the regime with much fanfare set up a National
Convention to begin considering a new constitution. One thousand delegates
are arriving in Rangoon from around the country, the official media
reported, to participate in the first meeting of the Convention for eight
months, which begins today.
Suu Kyi's party, the National League for Democracy (NLD), won a landslide
victory in elections held in 1990, a victory the regime refused to
recognise. Suu Kyi, the daughter of Aung San, the hero of Burma's
independence movement, had already been put under house arrest before the
election was held.
Speaking to the press in Rangoon yesterday, the Information Minister,
Brigadier General Kyaw Hsan, conceded that the NLD had won a majority of
seats in 1990, but said the voters did not know what they were doing.
Those who voted for it, he said, "did not scrutinise its politics or
capabilities and the background history of its candidates". Accusing the
party of refusing to compromise with the military, he added: "Now, there
is no reason to meet or discuss again with the NLD."
The NLD walked out of the Convention in 1995, complaining that it was
rigged. In 1996 it was adjourned and did not meet for the next eight
years. The Information Minister said: "Those who attempt to undermine the
National Convention will be crushed with the people's strength."
The constitutional meeting comes less than a fortnight after the UN
Security Council formally discussed Burma for the first time. The United
States, strongly supported by Britain, has been arguing strenuously that
the Security Council should act on Burma because, with the unending
repression of ethnic minorities on its borders and with the huge drugs
trade it fosters, it is a "threat to international peace and security".
October 9, Agence France Presse
Myanmar 'regrets' losing Japan's support at UN
Yangon: Myanmar's military government Monday said it was "regrettable"
that Japan had changed its stance and decided to back the United States in
bringing the country before the UN Security Council.
The information minister, Brigadier General Kyaw Hsann, told reporters
that Japan had ignored Myanmar's conciliatory attitude after World War II,
when Japanese forces occupied the country.
"At that period they committed atrocities, very cruel torture in Japanese
methods upon innocent people, and raped the national women," he said.
"So it's difficult... to forget such bitter experiences of torture.
However Myanmar, broadmindedly and with forgiveness, forgot all the bitter
experience of the past and has good relations with Japan," he said.
"However, the Japanese government neglected our attitude, our sincerity,
and the forgiveness of our people," Kyaw Hsann said.
"It is very regrettable," he added.
During World War II, Myanmar was still the British colony of Burma. The
country began its struggle for independence from Britain after local
forces took up arms against the Japanese occupiers.
Since then, the two countries have developed good relations, and Japan
initially opposed US efforts to bring Myanmar before the UN Security
Council over alleged rights abuses, but later changed its stance.
The Council held discussions on Myanmar in late September, with the United
States pressing to bring a resolution to try to force the junta to reform.
October 9, Agence France Presse
Yangon airport expansion almost complete: report
Bangkok: The expansion of Yangon's international airport, originally
intended for an ASEAN summit which was later cancelled, will be complete
in early 2007, the Myanmar Times reported Monday.
An aviation director told the semi-official newspaper that Myanmar's
revamped airport would be able to accommodate 1,800 passengers an hour.
"Once the expansion work is finished, the airport will have the capacity
to handle 2.7 million passengers a year," Soe Lwin, deputy director of the
Airport Design/Construction Division of the Civil Aviation Department,
told the paper.
The expansion of Yangon airport, which began in September 2002, was
accelerated last year in preparation for an ASEAN leaders' summit expected
to take place in late 2006.
The military-ruled nation was next in line to take over the alphabetically
rotating chair of the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations
(ASEAN) from Malaysia.
But Myanmar withdrew from the chairmanship amid pressure to block Yangon
from assuming the ASEAN chair unless the ruling military junta freed
democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi and implemented concrete political
Improvements to the 49-year-old airport went ahead anyway, and include an
extension of the terminal, an automated luggage carousel, a new
computerized check-in system and an advanced security system.
The runway is also being extended from 2,455 to 3,394 metres (8,050 to
"The expansion project will boost the country's revenue from the aviation
sector, and it will promote the trade and business sector as well," said
"The expansion is now about 84 percent complete," he added.
Oct 9, Democratic Voice of Burma
Famous astrologer reportedly detained for predicting the end of Burma junta
Reports of the detention of famous Burmese astrologer and novelist Min
Thein Kha who predicted that Burma military juntas new capital Naypyidaw
will last only two years and that there will be a change of the
government, are coming out of Burma.
According to sources close to the notorious Rangoon Insein Jail, Min Thein
Kha was taken to the jail and imprisoned there during this week.
I dont know when he got there exactly. I learnt that he is there when I
went to see my husband. He has a big social circle, a woman who visited
the prison recently told DVB.
Tin Hlaing of Thailand-based Assistance Association for Political
Prisoners (AAPP) also said that the reports could be true.
According to the reports last week from the prison, he was not there. It
is said that he only arrived at the prison only this week. It is certain.
The people inside the prison would not say it unless it is true. There is
no reason for a case of mistaken identity.
When we contacted the prison supervising departments in Rangoon, officials
on duty refused to make any comment. Min Thein Kha was also arrested
during the 1988 Uprising.
October 10, Independent Mon News Agency
Junta to select new village level administrators
The Burmese military junta is systematically going about reappointing
local level administrators along with the reconvening of the National
According to an order, about 15 village leaders selected five persons from
their villages and sent the list to the nearby military battalion,
according to a Village Peace and Development (VPDC) members wife. The
battalions will send the list of headmen to the Southeastern Command.
The Southeast Command will select only two persons for each village.
Those persons will get a salary, said the VPDC members wife in Mudon
The administration will pay a salary of Kyat 30,000 to the VPDC headman,
Kyat 20,000 to the secretary, and Kyat 10,000 to the clerk said a source
close to military authorities.
However, the wife said they were unaware exactly when the Southeast
Command would send back the lists of the new VPDC headmen.
Some villagers are worried about the newly selected headman fearing that
those close to the military will be selected.
Traditionally, most village headmen or VPDC chairmen in Mon State are
elected by villagers by voting so the people had some control over the
If the headmen are appointed by the military the people would have no
chance to complain about the headmens activities and they would not be
able to remove him from his post, said a political analyst.
According to the VPDC members wife, they (Southeastern Command) will
select VPDC headmen by reviewing his business, education level and whether
he has a good relationship with the military. Moreover they will choose
headmen who will kowtow to the battalions.
The villages between Nyaung-gone in Mudon Township to Thanpyuzayart
Township border will send their list to the Light Infantry Battalion (LIB)
No. 209. The villages from Mudon Town to Muolmein Township border would
despatch the list to the battalion in their area.
The current headmen, however, will enjoy power in the villages till the
Southeast Command makes the selection.
BUSINESS / TRADE
October 10, Thai Press Reports
Foreign Ministry defends its role in Thailand's loan to Myanmar (Burma)
The Foreign Ministry was in a defensive mode on October 5 following a
claim that senior officials were covering their tracks to distance
themselves from the Thaksin government's controversial loan to Myanmar
(Burma), The Nation reports.
Officials at the ministry have allegedly hidden and reclassified documents
related to loan funds extended to Burma by the Export-Import (Exim) Bank,
according to a former ambassador to the United Nations Asda Jayanama. He
made the allegations on ASTV on Wednesday.
The officials' alleged cover-up came after news the junta-installed Asset
Examination Committee (AEC) would scrutinise suspect and allegedly corrupt
deals undertaken by Thaksin's administration.
Officials at the ministry who have close connections to former minister
Surakiart Sathirathai, tried to cover some irregularities due to fears of
being dragged into the case, according to an official who spoke on
condition of anonymity.
But ministry spokesman Kitti Wasinondh rejected the allegation, saying
they were aware of no such acts at the ministry. No official could remove
any document without permission, he said.
However, the ministry's permanent secretary, Krit Garnjana-Goonchorn, had
told officials to prepare a report on relevant issues for when the new
minister is appointed, Kitti said.
"But the instruction was not made for the purpose of hiding anything on
any particular projects," he said.
An official at the ministry said officials who oversee Burma affairs were
ordered to remove a number of exchange notes between the ministry and the
bank over a Bt600 million loan for the Burmese government. The key
document contained a recommendation that the bank extend the loan, he
The loan was extended during Thaksin's government for Rangoon to buy the
broadband satellite system from Shin Satellite, a firm previously owned by
the Shinawatra family.
The project was proposed as part of the Bt4-billion credit line Thailand
extended to Burma to help develop its infrastructure, with the condition
that materials be purchased from the Kingdom and loans be repaid within 12
years at 3 per cent interest.
The loan project has been scrutinised since 2004, when the chairman of the
Senate Foreign Affairs Committee Kraisak Choonhavan, summoned an executive
of the bank to explain various irregularities in the project and possible
conflict of interest in Thaksin's administration.
Krit was appointed as permanent secretary at the Foreign Ministry in the
middle of 2004, long after the Burma loan was approved, spokesman Kitti
said, so Krit had nothing to worry about in regard to the Burma project.
Thus, it was unnecessary for him to instruct officials to hide or remove
any document related to the project.
October 10, Mizzima News
US's Burma sanctions affect Indo-Burmese trade - Subhaschandra M
The move to introduce Letter of Credit transaction in Indo-Burmese border
trade has run into rough weather because of certain factors, with the
major obstacle being the United States' imposition of economic sanctions
on Burma, said a senior Indian banker.
Letter of Credit (L/C) could not be made operational because of the
problem of settlement of payment in US dollars, said P P Singh, Senior
Manager, United Bank of India (International Banking Division) Kolkata.
Burma being a member of the Asian Clearing Union (ACU), transaction
between India and Burma has to be in ACU dollars, he added.
"But the major problem we're facing is the US sanction on Myanmar
(Burma)," Singh said, adding that as a result remittances in US dollars
were locked in the US and settlement of payments was not possible as of
After identifying Myanma Economic Bank (MEB), Tamu Branch and United Bank
of India (UBI), Moreh Branch as designated banks by Indian and Burmese
authorities for necessary banking arrangements for border trade, a
Memorandum of Understanding was signed in April, 2000.
According to the MoU, an ACU dollar Account of MEB was opened with UBI,
Moreh branch in September the same year. And following the MEB's request
five Burmese officials were given six days training on L/C operation in
Kolkata in September 2001.
But the immediate implementation of the L/C system was not considered
"feasible" as infrastructure both in terms of technical and trained
manpower resources were not available in distant Moreh-Tamu border region
at that time. Yet several steps have been initiated to overcome the
problem of implementation of L/C transaction.
"Now with the immediate requirement of introducing L/C, as barter trade
can't make much impact, UBI has sought permission from the Reserve Bank of
India to make settlement of payments in any of the permitted currencies
other than ACU dollars," said an official of India's northeastern state of
As per Reserve Bank of India's recent advise, Burma is allowed to be
settled in any freely convertible currency in addition to the ACU
mechanism. Indian authorities informed MEB of this development after
ascertaining the currency and corresponding bank.
"Not only this, the other major problems include difficulties in
exchanging documents and lack of telecommunication facilities along this
border sector," said Singh, "We want a hotline between UBI and MEB."
October 9, FT.com
Coup leaders name technocrats to cabinet - Amy Kazmin
Thailand's military-installed prime minister, Gen. Surayud Chulanont, 63,
Monday unveiled a business friendly, technocratic cabinet, which is
expected to keep a steady hand on the economy while the country focuses on
constitutional reforms following last month's coup.
Pridiyathorn Devakula, who won accolades for his independence as central
bank governor, will play a dual role as finance minister and deputy prime
minister in the interim administration, which is expected to last for a
year until the country holds fresh elections.
Kosit Panpiemras, executive chairman of Bangkok Bank, will also serve a
dual role as deputy prime minister and industry minister in the
The appointment of the two respected, market-oriented economists into key
policy-making positions is expected to reassure investors made jittery by
Gen. Surayud's earlier declaration that the military government would
focus on 'happiness' over economic growth.
But given the administration's relatively short expected life span and its
lack of a democratic mandate, the cabinet is unlikely to undertake any
major reforms, or shifts in policy direction. Yet they may have to grapple
with major questions over Thailand's long-standing foreign investment
framework, which has been undermined by recent investigations into the
take-over by Singapore's Temasek Holdings of Shin Corp, the company
founded by Thaksin Shinawatra, the ousted prime minister.
Vincent Milton, managing director of Fitch Ratings Thailand, said the two
respected economists would provide "very steady hands" at a time of
political uncertainty. "Fundamentally, they are textbook economists," he
said. "They don't like unorthodoxy, and would be very solid in terms of
Mr Pridiyathorn said over the weekend that the Cabinet would not attempt
to tackle controversial reforms such as privatisation, which he said would
be left to a future elected government.
However, he said that the interim administration would push ahead with a
limited number of mass transit projects including a new rail line for
Bangkok - which had been carefully scrutinised and found to be
economically viable and beneficial.
"We will only do what we think we have the ability to do," he said.
In other appointments, Piyasvasti Amranand, former head of Thailand's
National Energy Policy Office, and a well known advocate of energy sector
reforms, will head the Energy Ministry.
Krirkkrai Jirapet, Thailand's former ambassador to the World Trade
Organisation, will take the helm of the Commerce Ministry. In recent
weeks, the ministry has been considering possible restrictions on the
expansion of foreign hyper-markets, and has also raised questions about
shareholding structures in foreign deals.
Nitya Pibulsonggram, Thailand's former ambassador to Washington and the
former lead negotiator in now-stalled trade talks with the US, was named
foreign minister at a time when many Western governments are calling for a
swift return to democracy.
With the announcement of the technocratic cabinet, the military appears to
have fulfilled its pledge to hand power to a civilian administration. But
the military coup makers, who are now calling themselves the Council of
National Security, could still exercise influence over the government,
though they have pledged not to interfere with policy-making except on
October 9, Mizzima News
Jailed Burmese fishermen hope to return
About 137 Burmese fishermen, who have been languishing in jail in Andaman
Islands, India for periods ranging from three to four years, are hoping to
return home. The Indian authorities informed them that they were to be
The fishermen now detained in an open jail in Andaman Islands for
illegally entering Indian territorial waters were told last month. They
have been recognised as Burmese citizens by Burmese embassy officials in
"We were told about the deportation but no one here (open jail) knows the
exact date," said a fisherman on condition of anonymity for fear of being
punished when he goes back to Burma.
He said an Indian official told them on September 28 to prepare for
repatriation within 10 days.
A fisherman from Arakan state in Burma, who arrived on Andaman Islands
nearly three years ago, said "When we go back to Burma, we will be put in
a camp located in South Okkalapa, Rangoon for a week and then we will be
sent back to our respective homes."
He told his story of reaching Andaman Islands and said "Nineteen men were
fishing off-shore in Sittwe on January 7, 2004 and it was the rainy
season. After two days our boat's engine stopped because of shortage of
diesel. We were adrift and didn't know where we were heading, Sittwe or
Rangoon. On January 11, we saw an island and we thought the men we spotted
were Burmese police. However, Indian policemen arrested and sent us to
prison for illegally entering Indian waters. We were transferred to an
open jail after six months in prison.
About 415 people from Burma, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Cambodia
are detained in open jails of whom more than 300 are Burmese, according to
Meanwhile, 66 Rohingyas are waiting for their turn to meet their families
A Rohingya who claims to be a refugee said, he fled from Burma to escape
oppression by the military junta. Their boat broke while they were sailing
to Thailand from Bangladesh on January 2006 and they drifted to the
Though the Burmese fishermen are hoping to return home, 66 Rohingyas still
do not know when they will reunite with their families.
In December 2005 about 135 fishermen were transported back to Rangoon on
an Indian ship.
October 9, Associated Press
Security Council nominates South Korean foreign minister as next U.N.
secretary- general - Edith M. Lederer
United Nations: The Security Council nominated South Korean Foreign
Minister Ban Ki-Moon by acclamation Monday to succeed Kofi Annan as the
next U.N. secretary-general and the veteran diplomat said he would work to
resolve the crisis over North Korea's nuclear ambitions heightened by its
Japan's U.N. Ambassador Kenzo Oshima announced the result with "much
pleasure" after the council, at a private meeting, voted to recommend Ban.
The 62-year-old South Korean foreign minister who topped four informal
polls was the only candidate left in the race.
Oshima said the council met its goal of making a recommendation to the
General Assembly by October. He said he asked the 192-nation world body to
act promptly to give final approval to Ban so he can have a sufficient
transition before taking over as U.N. chief on Jan. 1, after Annan's
second five-year term ends.
"This is a decision of the Security Council to recommend the candidate
which the council considers the best," Oshima said. "I think the fact that
the candidate is currently foreign minister of the Republic of Korea is an
asset in dealing with the situation in the Korean peninsula that we are
In Seoul, Ban told reporters that if the General Assembly appoints him, he
would "contribute as much as I can to the resolution of all kinds of
problems including the North Korean nuclear issue that may threaten
international peace and security."
"This should be a moment of joy. But instead, I stand here with a very
heavy heart," Ban said. "Despite the concerted warning from the
international community, North Korea has gone ahead with a nuclear test."
U.S. Ambassador John Bolton called Ban's selection "a very significant
event," saying the United States looks forward to quick approval by the
"It's really quite an appropriate juxtaposition that today 61 years after
the temporary division of the Korean peninsula at the end of World War II,
we're electing the foreign minister of South Korea as secretary-general of
this organization and meeting as well to consider the testing by the North
Koreans of a nuclear device," he said.
"I can't think of a better way to show the difference in the progress of
those two countries great progress in the south and great tragedy in the
north," Bolton said.
Britain's U.N. Ambassador Emyr Jones Parry and France's U.N. Ambassador
Jean-Marc de La Sabliere welcomed Ban's selection,
"He has very impressive credentials," Jones Parry said. "He brings to this
job vast and long diplomatic experience and the United Kingdom has
supported him from the beginning."
Ban, 62, topped four informal polls in the council, and in the last one he
was the only candidate not to get a veto by one of the five permanent
council members. After that result, the five remaining candidates dropped
out of the race. A sixth candidate dropped out after a poor showing in the
There was growing speculation in U.N. corridors that the North Koreans
timed their nuclear test to the Security Council vote on Ban to express
their displeasure and opposition to a new U.N. chief from South Korea.
North Korea's announcement last Tuesday that it would conduct a nuclear
test in the face of what it claimed was "the U.S. extreme threat of a
nuclear war" came a day after Ban topped the fourth informal poll.
Jones Parry, asked whether the test was related to the election of a
secretary-general, said "I have no information on the intent, or indeed
the precise nature of the test."
Ban's selection was marked by unprecedented speed, consensus and calm. In
years past, the choice of a U.N. chief, including Annan, has often meant
rancorous negotiations, numerous ballots and handshake deals.
Ban would be the eighth secretary-general in the United Nations' 60-year
history, overseeing an organization with some 92,000 peacekeepers around
the world and a US$5 billion (euro3.9 billion) annual budget. The world
body's mandate, however, is much broader than peace and security issues
and includes fighting hunger, helping refugees, slowing the spread of
HIV/AIDS and promoting education, development and human rights.
By tradition, most countries agree that the next secretary-general should
come from Asia because of a tradition that the post rotate among the
regions of the world. The last Asian secretary-general was Burma's U
Thant, who served from 1961-71.
Bolton lobbied unsuccessfully to drop the rotation system and choose the
best qualified candidate. He and other council members lamented that there
were only seven candidates and that none had served as leader of their
The other candidates in the fourth straw poll were U.N.
Undersecretary-General Shashi Tharoor of India, who came in second,
Latvian President Vaira Vike-Freiberga, former Thai Deputy Prime Minister
Surakiart Sathirathai, Jordan's U.N. Ambassador Zeid al-Hussein and Afghan
Finance Minister Ashraf Ghani. Sri Lanka's Jayantha Dhanapala, a former
U.N. disarmament chief, withdrew after a poor showing in the third
Ban has been South Korea's foreign minister for over 2 1/2 years and
served as national security adviser to two presidents jobs that focused on
relations with the North. He has served as a diplomat for nearly 40 years,
including previous stints at the U.N. and in Washington.
He has said he would focus primarily on being the world's top diplomat and
leave the U.N.'s day-to-day operations primarily to a deputy though he
would maintain overall responsibility. Ban said he wants to continue the
reforms started under Annan to make the United Nations better able to deal
with the challenges of the 21st century, to focus on development and the
fight against poverty, and to promote peace in the Mideast and elsewhere.
Some diplomatic observers have expressed concern that Ban is not forceful
enough, and that if elected he would be a weak secretary-general at a time
that the United Nations needs a strong chief at the helm.
Ban said sometimes he might look like a weak leader, but he has "inner
strength" and is confident he will be able to demonstrate leadership while
maintaining his "strong commitment of responsibility for the public good"
and helping others.
Associated Press Writer Bo-Mi Lim contributed to this report from Seoul,
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