Ex-Portugal PM Guterres still on top in UN chief race

Kyodo News

Posted at Sep 27 2016 11:06 AM

NEW YORK, United States - Former Portuguese Prime Minister Antonio Guterres remains the frontrunner for the next United Nations secretary general after a fifth round of secret balloting of the 15 Security Council members Monday.

The former UN high commissioner for refugees received 12 encourage votes, two discourage votes and one no opinion, the same result as in the previous straw poll Sept. 9. He also won the other rounds.

Of the nine candidates remaining, down from the original 12, former Serbian Foreign Minister Vuk Jeremic, a past General Assembly president, gained eight positive votes as did Miroslav Lajcak, Slovakia's minister of foreign and European affairs.

Jeremic, however, received one less discourage vote -- six -- than Lajcak's seven.

Argentine Foreign Minister Susana Malcorra did the best out of the four women who remain in the race, receiving seven positive as well as seven negative votes and one no opinion.

The next poll will take place Oct. 5, when for the first time colored ballots will be used to distinguish between the votes of the council's five permanent members -- Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States -- and those of the 10 other elected members, although the anonymity of individual countries will be preserved.

Candidacies can be vetoed by any of the five permanent seat holders. It is not known which two members of the council voted against Guterres.

The secret balloting will continue until a consensus emerges on a candidate to replace South Korean Ban Ki Moon, who steps down Dec. 31 after completing his 10-year term. The council will then recommend its candidate to the General Assembly for election.

There has been a push to select a candidate by October so that the secretary general-elect will have enough time to prepare for taking on the post after Ban steps down.

British Ambassador Matthew Rycroft told reporters that the straw polls were an "opportunity for the council to consider the candidate, for the candidates to consider their positions, and just a reminder that, as an absolute minimum, the winning candidate needs to get nine positive votes and no vetoes."