Guterres poised to be next U.N. chief
UNITED NATIONS — Portugal’s former prime minister Antonio Guterres won the Security Council’s unanimous backing Wednesday to become the next U.N. secretary-general, winning plaudits for his strong leadership but disappointing campaigners for a woman or East European to be the world’s top diplomat for the first time.
The veteran politician and diplomat, who served as the U.N.’s refugee chief until December, topped all six informal polls in the council after his performance in the first-ever question-and-answer sessions in the 193-member General Assembly, which received high marks from almost every diplomat.
Russia’s U.N. Ambassador Vitaly Churkin, the current Security Council president, appeared after the sixth informal poll of the 10 remaining candidates was held behind closed doors saying: “You are witnessing, I think, a historic scene.”
Churkin then thanked the candidates before saying: “We have a clear favorite, and his name is Antonio Guterres.”
Churkin said the Security Council would hold a formal vote Thursday and expressed hope that the council will recommend Guterres by “acclamation” to the 193-member General Assembly, which must approve a successor to Ban Ki-moon whose second five-year term ends Dec. 31.
By tradition, the job of secretary-general has rotated among regions. Asia, Africa, Latin America and Europe have all held the post.
East European nations argue that they have never had a secretary-general and it was their turn. There has also never been a female secretary-general and more than 50 nations and many others campaigned to elect the first woman as U.N. chief.
Seven of the 13 candidates who entered the race were women.