Por­tu­gal’s Guter­res still leads race to be UN chief

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - Worldwide -

UNITED NA­TIONS — Por­tu­gal’s for­mer prime min­is­ter An­to­nio Guter­res is still the fron­trun­ner to be­come the next sec­re­tary-gen­eral of the United Na­tions fol­low­ing a third straw poll held on Mon­day, diplo­mats said.

Guter­res, who served as UN refugee chief for 10 years, re­ceived 11 votes of en­cour­age­ment, three “dis­cour­age” votes and one “no opin­ion” dur­ing the in­for­mal vote by the 15-mem­ber Se­cu­rity Coun­cil.

It is the third time that the 67-year-old has taken the num­ber one spot in the con­test to suc­ceed Ban Ki-moon, who steps down on De­cem­ber 31 af­ter 10 years as the world’s top di­plo­mat.

Dur­ing the first round, Guter­res took the lead with 12 “en­cour­age” votes and three “no opin­ion,” but he picked up two “dis­cour­age” votes in the sec­ond straw poll, along with 11 en­cour­age­ments and two “no opin­ion.”

While Guter­res’s rank­ing dropped slightly in the third straw poll, diplo­mats said he still held a strong lead in the race to take the helm of the world body.

“He re­mains well ahead of the pack,” a Se­cu­rity Coun­cil di­plo­mat said, speak­ing on con­di­tion of anonymity.

Slo­vak For­eign Min­is­ter Miroslav La­j­cak made a sur­prise show­ing as the run­ner-up, climb­ing up the rank­ings with nine en­cour­age­ments, five dis­cour­age votes and one “no opin­ion.” He took the sixth po­si­tion in the last round. Unesco chief Irina Bokova of Bul­garia and Ser­bia’s ex-for­eign min­is­ter Vuk Jeremic tied for the third spot, with seven en­cour­age­ments and five “dis­cour­age” votes, plus three “no opin­ion.”

Bokova be­came the lead­ing woman in the race, just ahead of Ar­gentina’s Su­sanna Mal­corra, who picked up seven en­cour­age­ments, seven “dis­cour­age votes and one “no opin­ion.”

Lower down the rank­ings, New Zealand’s ex-prime min­is­ter and cur­rent UN Devel­op­ment Pro­gram chief He­len Clark took the num­ber six spot, just below Mace­do­nia’s ex-for­eign min­is­ter Srg­jan Kerim.

Clark picked up six en­cour­age­ments, eight “dis­cour­age” votes and one “no opin­ion,” com­pared to six en­cour­age­ments, seven “dis­cour­age” votes and two “no opin­ion” for Kerim.

Slove­nia’s for­mer pres­i­dent Danilo Turk, who had made a strong show­ing as the run­ner-up in the first round, dropped to num­ber eight.

The last spots went to for­mer UN cli­mate ne­go­tia­tor Chris­tiana Figueres and ex-for­eign min­is­ter Natalia Gher­man of Moldova, who both picked up two en­cour­age­ments, 12 “dis­cour­age” votes and one no opin­ion.

The re­sults of the straw poll were not pub­licly an­nounced, but the coun­cil pres­i­dent com­mu­ni­cated them to the can­di­dates to give them an in­di­ca­tion of the level of sup­port in the coun­cil.

As with the two first straw polls, the re­sults were quickly leaked to the me­dia.

Rus­sia has said it will give pri­or­ity to eastern Euro­pean can­di­dates, but has not ruled out that con­tenders from other re­gions could be qual­i­fied for the post.

Of the 10 can­di­dates now still in the run­ning, six are from eastern Europe. Five are women.

Only two have dropped out of the race thus far, but oth­ers are ex­pected to with­draw af­ter the third straw poll. — AFP.

An­to­nio Guter­res

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