Former Australian prime minister Kevin Rudd on Friday withdrew his candidacy to be the next U.N. secretary-general after the current prime minister declared him unfit for the job. The two-time leader, always a long shot for the job, said he was pulling out of the race after being slapped down by Malcolm Turnbull, who refused to back his candidacy. “A nomination by the government would not have granted Mr Rudd a position. It would simply have enabled him to stand alongside the 12 other candidates from across the world, to compete on his merits,” a statement from his office said. “That is now not to be.”
Does the government believe, do we believe, do I as prime minister believe that Mr Rudd is well suited for that role? My considered judgement is that he is not.
Mr Rudd, a Chinese-speaking former diplomat who was prime minister twice during six years of Labor party strife from 2007 to 2013, is a polarising figure in Australia owing to his leadership rivalry with Julia Gillard. He was seen as unlikely to take over from Ban Ki-Moon as the UN’s top job is usually rotated among geographic regions. Portugal’s former prime minister Antonio Guterres recently topped the UN’s first informal poll of candidates, followed by Slovenia’s former president Danilo Turk. However, Mr Turnbull’s reluctance is in sharp contract to New Zealand prime minister John Key, who is making a full-throated appeal for former New Zealand premier Helen Clark to take over.