Horst Köhler

Former German President to Get UN Job

Horst Koehler als Mitglied von UN-Gremium fuer Entwicklung benannt
Mr. Köhler was a popular president until detractors accused him of advocating strong-arm foreign politics, eventually leading to his resignation. Source: Gerit Borth/DAPD.

United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres has put forward a former German head of state, Horst Köhler, to become the UN’s new personal envoy for Western Sahara. The appointment has yet to be confirmed, according to a report by German news magazine Der Spiegel.

Pending approval by the UN Security Council, Mr. Köhler would succeed long-serving US diplomat Christopher Ross, who resigned last month. As the UN’s special envoy, Mr. Köhler would lead peace negotiations in Western Sahara, a North African territory embroiled in a decades-long dispute over its status. Neighboring Morocco has de facto annexed the sparsely populated territory, despite international criticism and opposition by an independence movement backed by Algeria.

Mr. Köhler, 74, is a member of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union party and served as president, a largely ceremonial role, from 2004 to 2010. He resigned a year after his reelection amid controversy over remarks he made about the role of Germany’s armed forces in Afghanistan. An economist, Mr. Köhler was also head of the International Monetary Fund in the early 2000s.

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