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Last Updated: Wednesday, 16 June, 2004, 09:37 GMT 10:37 UK
Turk to lead world Muslim group
By Jonny Dymond
BBC correspondent in Istanbul

Turkish Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul (left) with Turkey's Professor Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu
Mr Ihsanoglu (right), with Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul, was presented as a reformer
Turkey has succeeded in having its candidate appointed as next secretary general of the Organisation of the Islamic Conference.

Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, 61, was voted in at an OIC meeting in Istanbul, and will hold the job for four years.

Turkey had lobbied long and hard for this position, and its victory will bring great pleasure to the government.

Mr Ihsanoglu won a surprisingly easy victory, gaining 32 votes to the 12 given to both Bangladesh and Malaysia.

The victory is interesting both for the organisation and for Turkey itself.

For Turkey, in the year when it hopes to receive a date for membership negotiations with the EU to begin, its victory gives added weight to its claim to be a bridge between Europe and the Islamic world.

For the organisation and its member states, the choice may indicate a further movement towards reform.

The Turkish government presented Mr Ihsanoglu as a reform candidate, both in terms of the organisation and the wider Islamic world.

The choice of the Turkish candidate follows a speech by the outgoing secretary general in which he highlighted what he called the extensive backwardness of the Islamic world.

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