Published: Thu, February 02, 2017
Research | By Elizabeth Houston

Ban Ki-moon rules out presidential run

Ban Ki-moon rules out presidential run

Former UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon says he will not run for South Korea's presidency, in a surprise announcement that removes a well-known figure from contention and further stirs the country's already tumultuous politics.

Ban did not formally announce his presidential bid, but indicated a strong willingness to run in the election even before his return to Korea on January 12 after 10 years of service at the world body.

Politics in South Korea have been upended by a massive scandal that prompted millions to take to the streets in protest, the impeachment of the country's conservative president, Park Geun-hye, and a power handoff to the prime minister.

"With all kinds of fake news, my intention for political change was nowhere to be seen and all that was left was grave scars to my family and myself, and to the honour of the United Nations, where I spent the past 10 years", he said.

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If Park is impeached, the next presidential election must be held within 60 days of the court's decision.

It follows his less than successful return to Seoul last month, marred by a series of perceived PR gaffes and a scandal involving family members. He was criticised for wearing a bib when the woman was not - and for feeding her while she was lying flat on her back.

The latest poll, from the Segye Ilbo, showed him running at 13 percent, well behind Moon Jae-in, the progressive front-runner for the presidency whose approval rating has risen to 33 percent. He had been expected to run as a conservative but was unable to secure any party affiliation. Ban denies any knowledge of such a scheme. "And people felt (he) should not be a president".

"Even if he is not in politics, there are many ways [Ban] can contribute to [the country], in the field of diplomacy", Moon said, referring to Ban's decades-long career in Seoul's foreign ministry and his 10 years as United Nations chief.

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