Por­tu­gal’s Guter­res set to be­come UN chief

> Quick con­sen­sus de­ci­sion took diplo­mats by sur­prise

The Sun (Malaysia) - - NEWS WITHOUT BORDERS -

NEW YORK: Por­tu­gal’s for­mer prime min­is­ter An­to­nio Guter­res ( pix) is poised to be­come the next sec­re­tary-gen­eral of the United Na­tions fol­low­ing a de­ci­sive vote by the Se­cu­rity Coun­cil yes­ter­day.

Guter­res, who led the UN’s refugee agency for a decade, won back­ing in the straw poll from 13 of the 15 coun­cil mem­bers while none of the five ve­to­hold­ing pow­ers blocked his can­di­dacy.

Rus­sian am­bas­sador Vi­taly Churkin emerged from the coun­cil cham­ber along with the 14 other am­bas­sadors to de­clare that Guter­res was on course to suc­ceed Ban Ki-moon as the world’s diplo­mat-inchief.

“We have a clear favourite and his name is An­to­nio Guter­res,” he said.

The coun­cil will un­der­take a for­mal vote to­day to con­firm the choice, Churkin an­nounced, adding he ex­pected the se­lec­tion to be “by ac­cla­ma­tion”.

“We wish Mr Guter­res well in dis­charg­ing his du­ties as the sec­re­tary­gen­eral of the United Na­tions in the next five years.”

The 67-year-old so­cial­ist politi­cian has pledged to re­vamp the United Na­tions to boost its peace­mak­ing ef­forts and pro­mote hu­man rights.

Dur­ing the se­cret bal­lot, Guter­res won four pos­i­tive votes and one “no opin­ion” from veto hold­ers, clear­ing the way for him to be­come the new UN chief.

Veto pow­ers Bri­tain, China, France, Rus­sia and the US used colour-coded bal­lots to in­di­cate for the first time whether they in­tended to block a can­di­date.

Guter­res, who was Por­tu­gal’s prime min­is­ter from 1995 to 2002, had held the num­ber one spot in the pre­vi­ous five in­for­mal votes, but the quick con­sen­sus de­ci­sion took many diplo­mats by sur­prise.

He will be the first for­mer head of govern­ment to be­come UN chief, a po­si­tion that has been held by sev­eral for­eign min­is­ters, most of whom were cho­sen dur­ing closed-door meet­ings by the Se­cu­rity Coun­cil.

This time around, the se­lec­tion in­volved a new, more open process that al­lowed can­di­dates to ap­pear at hear­ings to make their pitch for the top job be­fore the Gen­eral As­sem­bly.

Once the Se­cu­rity Coun­cil for­mally en­dorses him, Guter­res will be pre­sented to the Gen­eral As­sem­bly for ap­proval.

The new UN chief be­gins his term on Jan 1.

France’s am­bas­sador Fran­cois De­lat­tre said the choice of Guter­res – who speaks French, English and Span­ish as well as Por­tuguese – was “good news for the United Na­tions”, while Bri­tish en­voy Matthew Ry­croft said he will make a “very strong, ef­fec­tive sec­re­tary­gen­eral”. – AFP

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