- The Washington Times - Saturday, June 30, 2001

NEW YORK The General Assembly yesterday unanimously extended Kofi Annan's tenure as U.N. secretary-general in one of the least contentious elections in the organization's history.
Mr. Annan, a soft-spoken Ghanaian diplomat who has spent his entire career with the international body, received unprecedented support from around the world, including early endorsements from each of the key Security Council members.
The 63-year-old diplomat, accompanied by wife Nane and daughter Ama, received a standing ovation after the vote.
Mr. Annan won warm praise from the U.S. government, the European Union, and governments around the world. Under the U.N. Charter, the council nominates the secretary-general, who is then approved by the full voting membership of the General Assembly.
His second five-year term will begin on Jan. 1.
In Mr. Annan, "we have the personification of the international community, a global citizen who gives voice to all the people of our United Nations," said James Cunningham, acting U.S. ambassador to the United Nations.
Mr. Annan's re-election is a stark contrast to his first campaign, a pre-Christmas cliffhanger in 1996. He was selected after his predecessor, Egyptian diplomat Boutros Boutros-Ghali, had a second term effectively vetoed by the Clinton administration.
Steven Dimoff, vice president of the Washington office of the United Nations Association of the U.S.A., a group that seeks to improve the international body's relations here, credited Mr. Annan with winning over traditional U.N. critics, such as Sen. Jesse Helms, North Carolina Republican.
"He's tried to respond to them. He's taken them seriously and tried to explain the U.N. position, or that of other governments," said Mr. Dimoff. "He's the un-Boutros."
"He does passably well on reform, budget and AIDS issues, and less well on the Middle East," said one Republican Senate staffer, who praised Mr. Annan as "about as good as we can do" in the U.N. post.
Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Joseph R. Biden Jr., Delaware Democrat, was more effusive, telling the Reuters news agency yesterday that Mr. Annan "is the best thing that has happened to the United Nations since I have been in the Senate."
Diplomats said yesterday that Mr. Annan's easy, decisive win offers him a clear mandate to continue his priority projects, including development assistance for the world's poorest nations, fighting AIDS and beefing up the U.N.'s peacekeeping work.
Mr. Annan is the son of a Ghanaian businessman and tribal chief. In his long U.N. career, he has consistently championed African issues.
He was educated in the United States, graduating from Macalaster College in St. Paul, Minn., and getting a master's degree in management from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
He has learned the 38-floor secretariat and far-flung U.N. duty stations from the inside: over nearly four decades, he has worked in departments dealing with personnel, staff security, budgeting, refugee affairs and peacekeeping.
Bangladesh's ambassador, Anwarul Karim Chowdhury, said Mr. Annan, the organization's seventh secretary-general, "has excelled in his office, delivering under trying circumstances."
These include inheriting a nearly bankrupt organization owed more than $1 billion by the United States, and rebuilding confidence in a peacekeeping department shamed by failures in Somalia and Bosnia, and embarrassments in East Timor and Sierra Leone.

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