Subject: East Timor leader not taking UN job

International Herald Tribune

East Timor leader not taking UN job By Peter Gelling

Published: June 27, 2008

<>JAKARTA: After days of rumors about his possible departure, President José Ramos-Horta of East Timor said Friday that he would not seek the post of United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, opting instead to continue his five-year presidential term.

"An early departure from my current responsibility would result in early elections, and this would be an unfair burden on a people who went to the polls three times in 2007," Ramos-Horta said in a prepared statement Friday. "Hence I have decided not to put forward my name as a candidate for High Commissioner for Human Rights. I will stay on in Timor-Leste for the foreseeable future."

Lawmakers in Dili, East Timor's capital, said Wednesday that Ramos-Horta, 58, a 1996 Nobel Peace Prize laureate, told them he had already accepted the UN post and would announce his decision to leave this week. The president, in comments to reporters, also spoke as if he had been offered the job, although the secretary general of the United Nations, Ban Ki Moon, emphasized Thursday he had not offered the job to anyone.

Ban said Thursday that his search to replace the current commissioner, Louise Arbour, a Canadian whose term ends Monday, was continuing. He said he had interviewed several candidates personally and would most likely present his recommendation to the UN General Assembly next week.

Although several countries, including Australia, Brazil and Portugal, had encouraged Ramos-Horta to seek the position, it was unclear whether he was even on Ban's short list of candidates. 

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