SYDNEY (Reuters) – Former Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has officially requested the support of his country’s new government to back a bid for the top job at the United Nations, Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said on Monday.

Rudd, a fluent Mandarin-speaker, had been rumored to be garnering support to replace U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon when he steps down at the end of 2016, after a second, five-year term.


“Kevin Rudd has requested that the Australian government nominate him, and as the prime minister has indicated on a number of occasions that’ll be a matter for the cabinet,” Bishop told Australia’s Channel 7 television.

“I’ll certainly put the matter forward. It’ll be a matter for the cabinet.”

Newly-elected Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull is expected to announce his cabinet on Monday after a closely-fought July 2 national poll. Turnbull’s conservative Liberal-National coalition is split on whether to support Rudd, a member of Australia’s opposition Labor party.

There are more than a dozen high-profile candidates vying for the position, including former U.N climate chief Christiana Figueres, UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova of Bulgaria; former Croatian Foreign Minister Vesna Pusic and former New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark. (Reporting by Matt Siegel; Editing by Michael Perry) [/restrict]