South Korea’s Kim Jong-yang was Wednesday announced by Interpol as its new president, beating a Russian official whose candidacy had unnerved Western nations.
Backed by the US, Kim, acting president of the global police body, was picked at a meeting of delegates from member nations in Dubai to replace Meng Hongwei, who went missing in his native China in September.
Beijing later said Meng resigned after being charged with accepting bribes.
There had been growing calls within Western nations for Interpol to reject Russian candidate Alexander Prokopchuk — a Russian interior ministry official and current Interpol vice president — over fears Moscow could abuse the role to target political opponents.
On Tuesday, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo threw his weight behind Kim, who will serve out Meng’s term until 2020.
“We encourage all nations and organisations that are part of Interpol and that respect the rule of law to choose a leader with integrity. We believe Mr. Kim will be just that,” Pompeo told reporters.
Critics have raised concerns over Russia’s previous applications for Interpol “Red Notices”, or international arrest warrants, to target those who have fallen foul of the Kremlin.
Interpol’s president chairs its General Assembly while day-to-day operations are handled by the organisation’s Secretary general Juergen Stock.