Cairo mulls options to replace Arab League chief: sources

Egypt is in negotiations with several Arab countries over who will replace Nabil al-Araby as Secretary-General of the Arab League once his term ends, according to diplomatic sources close to the organization.

Several Arab countries have demanded in recent years that the position should be rotated. However, this possiblity has now been ruled out, and Cairo is trying to reach an understanding with its influential Arab partners, sources told Al-Masry Al-Youm

The sources indicated three possible scenarios that might result from negotiations.

The first is to extend Araby’s term for one or two more years, until an Egyptian diplomat has been chosen to occupy the position.

The second scenario involves nominating the former Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed abul Gheit for the post, although some Egyptian officials expressed concern that his nomination would provoke disagreement, with Riyadh and Khartoum especially likely to object.

The third scenario, according to the sources, would be to appoint Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry. However, they said this would depend on President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi giving permission for Shoukry to step down as foreign minister.

The sources ruled out the possibility that Qatar would oppose the nomination of an Egyptian candidate. A deal between the two countries might see Qatar supporting Egypt's nominee for the Arab League job while Egypt supports the Qatari candidate, Culture Minister Hamad bin abdel Aziz al-Kawari, for the post of UNESCO secretary general.

Araby was named Arab League chief in May 2011, succeeding Amr Moussa, who headed the league for 10 years.

Edited translation from Al-Masry Al-Youm

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