UNITED NATIONS - Diplomats and United Nations officials Monday dismissed a Kuwaiti newspaper report that US President Barack Obama has been privately campaigning to succeed Ban Ki-moon as the Secretary-General of UN, saying there is no such move here.

Obama is due to leave office early next year after serving two 4-year terms as the head if state while the tenure of Ban, a former South Korean foreign minister, comes to an end at the end of this year.

A UN spokesman declined to comment when asked for his reaction to Kuwaiti paper al-Jarida’s report, which was picked up by a section of Israeli, US and Pakistani newspapers. “As you know, the selection of the next secretary-general is for the member states to handle,” the spokesman said. But privately UN officials said, “It (the report) looks like a fabrication.”

And one diplomat, who is involved in the process to select the next UN chief, rejected it as “baseless”.

“Traditionally, candidates from the P5 or permanent members of the UN Security Council - China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States - are not considered for the position of Secretary-General to avoid further concentration of power within the UN,” a UN official explained. “As with regional rotation, this is a matter of precedent and convention, rather than a written rule,” he said, pointing out that Eastern Europe is next on the list.

The secretaries-general of the UN have so far comes from the following countries: Norway, Sweden, Burma, Austria, Peru, Egypt, Ghana and South Korea.

Meanwhile, the United Nations has already begun the process to elect the next Secretary-General, with the Security Council and General Assembly having made an unprecedented call to member states to recommend women candidates for the post.

The 15-member Security Council traditionally considers an undisclosed list behind closed doors and recommends a candidate to be elected by the General Assembly.

In a effort at some transparency, the presidents of the Security Council and the General Assembly – US Ambassador Samantha Power and Mogens Lykketoft of Denmark – sent a letter late in December to 193 UN member states to begin the search for Ban’s replacement by outlining the process and soliciting candidates.

The two also made a special emphasis on the need for member states to nominate women candidates for the job.

“Convinced of the need to guarantee equal opportunities for women and men in gaining access to senior decision-making positions, Member States are encouraged to consider presenting women, as well as men, as candidates for the position of Secretary-General,” the letter said.

President Lykketoft said that so far two candidates had been put forward for selection - Croatia’s woman Foreign Minister Vesna Pusic and former UN General Assembly President Srgjan Kerim of Macedonia.

Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has served two five-year terms and his tenure as UN Chief will end on December 31.

The next Secretary-General will assume the role in January 2017 and will serve a five-year term, which can be renewed by Member States for an additional five years.

According to the UN Charter, the Secretary-General is appointed by the General Assembly following the recommendation of the Security Council.

Until now the selection of the Secretary General was made behind closed doors by the Security Council with the five veto-wielding permanent members having the last word.

However as the time to elect Ban’s successor nears, there is a growing demand from member states not only to make the process more transparent and inclusive but also to have a woman leader assume the role.

In another unprecedented move, Ambassador Power and President Lykketoft said potential candidates will be given the opportunity to interact with members of the Security Council and General Assembly.