Guter­res poised to be next U.N. chief

Baltimore Sun - - WORLD - By Edith M. Led­erer

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.

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