Kevin Rudd has played down his and Helen Clark’s chances of becoming United Nations secretary-general, joking he would have a better shot if his surname was “Ruddovich”.
The former Australian prime minister also refused to address Foreign Minister Julie Bishop’s recent comments that he has been visiting world leaders to express interest in the UN’s top job.
“That is a statement she made, and I didn’t,” Mr Rudd said in an interview with India’s The Hindu newspaper.
Mr Rudd has not officially announced he will run for secretary-general, but he has not ruled out eventually making a bid.
The UN Security Council traditionally rotates between regions when choosing a new UN boss and the general consensus is eastern Europe is next up.
“Well my own view is that we are likely to have a UN secretary-general from East Europe this time, and that view hasn’t changed,” Mr Rudd said.
“Last I looked, my name is not Ruddovich.”
The UN took the unprecedented step last week of inviting the nine official candidates to attend two-hour public question-and-answer sessions at the organisation’s headquarters in New York.
Former New Zealand prime minister Ms Clark, considered a frontrunner for the job, had her turn on Thursday.
The final selection process will be held behind closed doors in the UN Security Council, with the five permanent members – US, Britain, China, France, Russia – holding veto power.
There is also a strong push for the next secretary-general to be a woman, but Mr Rudd played down Ms Clark’s chances.
“As I said, it is my firm belief that this time we will have a UNSG (UN secretary-general) chief from East Europe,” Mr Rudd said.
“As for Helen, I think she will be a strong candidate if we cannot find agreement between the P-5 and the other members of the Security Council on an East European candidate.
“I’ve known Helen for a long time, she’s a very capable person and strong PM of New Zealand as well as a strong internationalist.”
UN watchers predict Mr Rudd is waiting in the wings and will make a run if the current candidates are ruled out.
Ban Ki-moon’s term as secretary-general expires at the end of 2016.