Portugal’s Antonio Guterres Poised to be Next UN Secretary-General

Russia’s UN Ambassador Vitaly Churkin said he hoped the council would unanimously recommend Guterres

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In this Monday, 12 Oct, 2015 file photo, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees Antonio Guterres arrived for a meeting with Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras in Athens. (Photo: AP)

Former Portuguese Prime Minister Antonio Guterres is poised to be the ninth United Nations Secretary-General and is expected to be formally recommended to the 193-member General Assembly for election by the Security Council on Thursday, diplomats said.

Russia's UN Ambassador Vitaly Churkin, president of the 15-member council for October, said he hoped the council would unanimously recommend Guterres, who was also the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees from June 2005 to December 2015.

Guterres, 67, would replace Ban Ki-moon, 72, of South Korea, who will step down at the end of 2016 after serving two terms. Guterres was Prime Minister of Portugal from 1995 to 2002.

Churkin with his 14 council colleagues standing behind him on Wednesday, said:

Today after our sixth straw poll we have a clear favorite and his name is Antonio Guterres. We wish Mr Guterres well in discharging his duties as the Secretary-General of the United Nations for the next five years.

The council has been holding informal secret ballots since July in a bid to reach consensus on a candidate. Members had the choices encourage, discourage or no opinion. Guterres has come out on top of all the polls and on Wednesday received 13 encourage votes and two no opinion votes.

In the end, there was just a candidate whose experience, vision, and versatility across a range of areas proved compelling. If we have these trans national threats and we don’t have somebody at the helm of the United Nations that can mobilize coalitions, that can make the tools of this institution ... work better for people, that’s going to be more pain and more suffering and more dysfunction than we can afford.
Samantha Power, US Ambassador

Diplomats said one of the no opinion votes was cast by one of the five veto wielding powers, which are Russia, China, the United States, France and Britain.

The Security Council will adopt a resolution, traditionally behind closed doors, recommending that the General Assembly appoint Guterres for a five-year term from 1 Jan, 2017. The resolution needs nine votes in favor and no vetoes to pass.

"We hope it can be done by acclamation," Churkin said.

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