Boutros-Ghali Bids Early for Second Term: U.S. Caught with No Rival Candidate

Article excerpt

NEW YORK - U.N. Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali, citing "strong encouragement" he has received from member states, yesterday said in a telephone call from Germany that he intends to seek a second five-year term as chief of the nearly bankrupt organization.

A U.S. official in Washington, informed by a reporter of Mr. Boutros-Ghali's unexpected announcement, responded: "We have said for a long time that we would announce our own position as soon as he announces his. Now that he has, we will announce ours."

The official did not say when such a declaration will be made, but Washington has been itching to unseat the 73-year-old Egyptian diplomat, whose activism and open criticism of U.S. arrearages at the United Nations has often irritated the United States.

Fortunately for Mr. Boutros-Ghali, however, the Clinton White House has been too preoccupied with its own survival in the November elections to come up with an alternative candidate for the post. Without a candidate, the United States will be hard pressed to use its veto on the Security Council.

[The Clinton administration, determined to promote reform in the U.N. bureaucracy, is opposing another term for Boutros Boutros-Ghali as secretary-general, an administration official said yester-day.

["We need to find a new secre-tary-general," the official told the Associated Press. "We need to concentrate on reform for the next century."]

Although the secretary-general still has six months before his term expires Dec. 30, there have been flurries of speculation in the past two years over who might succeed him as the sixth chief of the 50-year-old organization.

The latest name de jour - favored especially because she is a woman - is Irish President Mary Robinson, who has said she does not consider herself a candidate but wouldn't close the door on such an offer. Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, Massachusetts Democrat, has suggested her as a candidate.

Sadako Ogata, the U.N. high commissioner for refugees, Norwegian Prime Minister Gro Harlem Brundtland and former Finnish Defense Minister Elisabeth Rehn are also frequently mentioned.

The names of several male candidates are also bandied about, including Canadian Maurice F. Strong of the World Bank, South African Justice Richard Goldstone and Sri Lankan Ambassador to the United States Jayantha Dhanapala.

None of the 185 member states has officially declared its position, although French President Jacques Chirac has publicly praised Mr. Boutros-Ghali and has indicated that France would fully support a second term. The Organization of African Unity, whose support will be key for Mr. Boutros-Ghali's success, has unofficially signaled its support of him.

Speculation at U.N. headquarters on the timing of his announcement is that he is bowing to the pressure of possible competition because of the latest round of media reports about possible candidates. …