- Interpol elected Kim Jong-yang, a South Korean national, as its news president on Wednesday.
- The election took place because the old president, Meng Hongwei, was detained on a visit to his native China.
- Meng has not been heard from since, and his wife believe he may be dead.
- Kim beat Russia’s Alexander Prokupchuk in the elections.
Interpol has elected a new South Korean president, less than two months after China disappeared its previous one.
Member states of the international police organisation voted Kim Jong-yang as leader at a conference in Dubai on Wednesday.
Kim succeeds Meng Hongwei, the Chinese Interpol president who went missing in late September while travelling to his native country.
China said in early October that it had detained him on unspecified bribery allegations, and Interpol reportedly accepted an unsigned resignation letter from Meng without asking for further details.
Meng was elected president in 2016 and was due to serve until 2020. Kim stepped in as interim president after Meng’s disappearance, which remains unresolved.
Interpol said it couldn’t investigate Meng’s disappearance because organisation rules didn’t allow it.
Kim beat Alexander Prokupchuk, a Russian national, by 40 votes, according to a tweet from Arsen Avakov, Ukraine’s internal affairs minister.
Prokupchuk, a Russian interior ministry veteran, had been widely tipped to win. His victory would have been a massive boon for the Kremlin, which has tried to issue international arrest warrants for President Vladimir Putin’s critics in the past.
Prior to the Interpol vote, US Senators Marco Rubio, Roger Wicker, Jeanne Shaheen, and Chris Coons, described Russia’s candidacy as “akin to putting a fox in charge of the henhouse,” according to USA Today.
A separate group of bipartisan senators, including Chuck Schumer, Amy Klobuchar, Dianne Feinstein, and Sheldon Whitehouse also wrote a letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo expressing their “grave concern” with Prokupchuk’s candidacy.
Bill Browder, one of Putin’s most outspoken enemies and for whom Moscow has requested international arrest warrants, said in response to Prokupchuk’s defeat: “Reason prevails in this dark world.”
Russia’s interior ministry called the criticism “a campaign aimed at discrediting the Russian candidate,” Reuters reported.
The Interpol president’s role is to chair general assembly and executive committee meetings, Interpol said on Wednesday. Jürgen Stock, the secretary general, runs the organisation’s daily activities.