Voting begins in tense FAO election

Georgian candidate Davit

  ROME -- Voting began Sunday in the FAO election for a new director general as delegates nursed their hangovers from attending glittering, boozy parties thrown Saturday night to promote the three candidates from France, Georgia and China. Counting began after the first ballot a short time after noon.

 The atmosphere was tense as many delegates recognise that a Chinese victory would sound the death knell for the UN agency as an independent institution, placing it under ultimate, sinister control of the Chinese Communist Party in beijing, diplomatic observers said.

 It was not immediately clear how many iof an estimated 24 FAO member states who are behind with paying their contributions to the UN agency were being allowed to vote, or whether the superpower candidtaes would pay off arrears of some in return for a pledge of a ballot.

 The voting was being webcast live on the FAO website



French and Chinese candidates in the FAO election Sunday