Former Australian leader wants nomination for UN top job

AP News
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Posted: Jul 18, 2016 1:18 AM
Former Australian leader wants nomination for UN top job

CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — Former Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd is making a late bid for the top United Nations job, after months of cross-crossing the world in low-key lobbying for government support.

Rudd had requested that the Australian government take the crucial step of formally nominating him to succeed U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, whose second five-year term ends Dec. 31.

Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said that decision would be made by Australia's next cabinet, which will be named Monday following July 2 elections and sworn in as early as Tuesday.

Rudd, the New York-based president of the Asia Society Policy Institute, said he understood his nomination might not be among the government's highest priorities after barely scraping back into power in unexpectedly close election.

"I respect the fact that the government has many other priorities at this time, having just been returned to office," Rudd said on his Facebook page.

"This is a matter for the prime minister, the foreign minister and their colleagues at a time of their choosing," he said.

Rudd was elected prime minister in 2007, but was dumped by his own center-left Labor Party in 2010. He was dubbed Recycled Rudd when he regained the control of the chaotic and divided government weeks before it lost elections in 2013.

The 58-year-old has been canvasing diplomatic support around the world for months, although Bishop on Monday became the first to confirm his plans to be a candidate.

But several lawmakers in Australia's conservative government are openly hostile toward his bid.

"Kevin was never happy just running Australia — he believed he was always destined to run the world," Immigration Minister Peter Dutton said in April. "Kevin's ego makes (presumptive Republican presidential nominee) Donald Trump's look like a rounding error."

Opposition leader Bill Shorten said only petty politics would prevent the government from nominating a former political opponent.

"If they're going to be a government for all Australians, they'll support the Australian on the international stage," Shorten said.

Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade had advised the government that Rudd's chances would be harmed if he did not gain the crucial nomination by the end of July, The Australian newspaper reported Monday.

The department did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Monday.

Rudd is a Chinese-speaking former diplomat who served as Australia's foreign minister between his stints as prime minister. He was a polarizing figure within his government, with some former ministers swearing they would never work with his again because of his chaotic management style.