OIC Picks Moroccan as New Chief despite Asian Protests

Published June 29th, 2000 - 02:00 GMT

The Organization of the Islamic Conference (IOC) on Thursday chose another Moroccan, Abdelouhed Belkziz, as its next chief despite private protests that it is Asia's turn for the job. 

OIC foreign ministers unanimously agreed on Belkziz as next secretary-general, Malaysian Foreign Minister Syed Hamid Albar told reporters. 

Belkziz, a former Moroccan foreign minister, will replace Morocco's Ezeddine Laraki whose term expires in December. 

The decision follows two days of wrangling over who of three candidates to support. Bangladesh and Turkey also vied for the post, with Turkey lobbying hard. 

Asian delegates had complained to reporters that based on a tradition of rotating the post between Asia, the Arab world and Africa, Asia should supply the next OIC chief. 

But foreign ministers reached eventual agreement without having to break tradition and resort to a vote. 

"All of them agreed to support the Moroccan candidate," said Syed Hamid. 

"They arrived at the decision based on legal arguments and based on the fact that there should not be any election for the secretary-general. 

"All of us decided there should not be any election ... to avoid perceptions that the Muslim world is divided or that we are split." 

Syed Hamid did not explain his reference to legal arguments. But some delegates told reporters that under the OIC charter Morocco was entitled to fill the post for a second four-year term, even with a different person. 

Several previous holders of the office served two terms. 

Syed Hamid, who has urged reforms to make the 56-member OIC more relevant and purposeful, said the new secretary-general "has to do lots of work to give the feeling that the OIC is a relevant body, that it can work and function well. 

"We must now move forward and the election by way of consensus is a sign of that." - KUALA LAMPUR (AFP) 


© 2000 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)

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