UNITED NATIONS • Portugal's former prime minister Antonio Guterres is poised to become the next United Nations secretary-general following a sixth straw poll by the Security Council.
Russian Ambassador Vitaly Churkin emerged from the secret ballot yesterday along with the 14 other council ambassadors to declare that Mr Guterres was the "clear favourite" to succeed Mr Ban Ki Moon as the world's diplomat-in- chief.
Mr Churkin announced that a formal vote by the council will take place today to confirm the choice of Mr Guterres, adding that he expected the selection to be "by acclamation". "We wish Mr Guterres well in discharging his duties as the secretary-general of the United Nations in the next five years," Mr Churkin said.
During yesterday's straw poll, veto-holders Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States used pink ballots to indicate for the first time whether they intended to block a candidate. Mr Guterres, who was the UN's refugee chief for 10 years, received 13 positive votes including four from the five veto-holding council members, and two "no opinion" votes including one from a veto-holding member.
The 67-year-old, who served as Portugal's prime minister from 1995 to 2002, had held the No. 1 spot in the previous five informal votes by the Security Council.
There were 10 candidates in the race to become the next secretary- general, including European Union budget commissioner Kristalina Georgieva from Bulgaria, who faced two vetos after entering the fray just last week.