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UN Secretary General Election in 1996

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During a meeting with President Diouf of Senegal, the issue of the election of the UN Secretary General came up, particularly in the context of the veto against incumbent Boutros Boutros Ghali by the US Administration. 

Dr. Salim: "As for my own position, I have repeatedly stated that given my position as SG of the OAU and given my experiences of 1981, I would not want to have my name in the list unless I have some indications that I will not be opposed. Currently given France's position on the language factor, then I am disqualified. But I wonder whether the real issue is one's capacity to speak French or one's understanding of the legitimate interests of France including the importance of the French language. I was of the view that this consideration was more important than whether or not one speaks French. I recalled that in 1981, France consistently voted for me. And in the last seven years as OAU SG, I have worked very closely  with the French. I said that perhaps President Diouf could find out the bottom line of the French position on this. But if the French persist on the language factor, then clearly I could not be a candidate though many African leaders have approached me and urged me to run."

President Diouf: "If you do not become Secretary General of the United Nations, then clearly you must continue to serve Africa as SG of OAU." 


SAS Notes December 2 1996

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More consultations and discussions occur related to Dr. Salim's potential candidacy for the role of UN Secretary General. High level conversations occurred with a number of African Heads of State, including President Sani Abacha; President Nelson Mandela who all had discussions with President Chirac of France and President Clinton of the United States. 

"This has been quite a day in so far as my own possible candidature for the post of UNSG is concerned. In this context, it has also been a day of dramatic surprises when all of a sudden when watching CNN around 1700 hours local time, I heard that Vice President Thabo Mbeki had declared in New Delhi full support for my possible candidature as UNSG. This development should be seen within the context of the fact that I had no idea that such a public declaration was forthcoming." - Dr. Salim, December 6, 1996

Discussion with President Mandela 

"He had telephoned President Clinton and asked him what would be his attitude if my candidature were presented. The President of the United States told President Mandela that he could get back to him. But Clinton did not come back. However, Ambassador Jelly, South Africa' s Permanent Representative at the United Nations was informed by his counterpart - Ambassador Madeline Albright (now designated as Secretary of State) that "things do change". (This, according to President Mandela was the response to his message and what it means is that the United States will not veto me this time around.

He has spoken to Mwalimu and South Africa is prepared to nominate my name for consideration by the Security Council. He has also talked to President Biya, the OAU Current Chairman." Dr. Salim, December 6, 1996


SAS Notes December 6, 1996

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