Dispute over OIC Leadership Heats up

Published June 29th, 2000 - 02:00 GMT

Ministers from three nations vying to head a global Islamic grouping met Thursday to try to settle the dispute, but there was no immediate word on progress. 

Bangladesh, Turkey and Morocco are competing to fill the post of secretary-general of the 56-member Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) after the term of Morocco's Ezeddine Laraki expires in December. 

One Asian diplomat accused the African and Arab bloc of trying to "elbow out" the Asian candidates from Bangladesh and Turkey and said the dispute could damage the OIC unless an agreement is reached. 

Malaysian Foreign Minister Syed Hamid Albar, who is chairing this week's meeting of OIC foreign ministers, met for 20 minutes with Bangladeshi Foreign Minister Abdus Samad Azad, Turkish Foreign Minister Ismail Cem, and Morocco's deputy foreign minister Taib Fassi Fihri. 

Syed Hamid left the three to talk between them and rejoined the private meeting along with representatives of eight other countries, one diplomat said. 

Syed Hamid told reporters that the candidates agreed the choice should be made through consensus according to OIC tradition rather than by a vote. 

"We do not think a consensus cannot be reached," he said. 

Based on a tradition of rotating the post between Asia, the Arab world and Africa, Asia should supply the next OIC chief. 

But Syed Hamid said: "There is nothing in the constitution to say we must go by region." 

Asked about complaints that Arab and African members were trying to elbow Asia out of the job, he said: "I think the question of elbowing does not come in. If there were elbowing, people would not talk to each other." 

But an Asian diplomat, whose country is putting forward a candidate, said the Arabs and Africans were "clearly trying to elbow the Asians out."  

The diplomat said the difficulty was in getting agreement that an Asian should fill the post and that deciding between Turkey and Bangladesh would not be a problem - KUALA LAMPUR (AFP)  

© 2000 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)

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