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Ban, Tharoor Lead in UN Chief Race
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South Korea's Ban Ki-Moon and India's Shashi Tharoor were taking a lead in the race for the position of the next UN secretary-general, UN diplomats said Monday.


Earlier in the day, the UN Security Council held its first straw poll on candidates vying to replace current UN chief Kofi Annan at the very beginning of next year.


Some diplomats, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said Ban had received the most favorable votes followed by Tharoor.


Ban received 12 "encouragements," one "discouragement" and two "no opinions" while Tharoor got 10 "encouragements," two "discouragements" and three "no opinions," the diplomats disclosed.


Meanwhile, the other two candidates, Thailand's Surakiart Sathirathai and Sri Lanka's Jayantha Dhanapala ranked in third and fourth places respectively.  


The poll results are strictly not allowed to be made public, but representatives from the candidates' countries would be informed of their own votes.


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 power on the issue.


(Xinhua News Agency July 26, 2006)


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