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Portugal's Antonio Guterres 'still in the lead' in UN top spot ballot

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Portugal's Antonio Guterres 'still in the lead' in UN top spot ballot

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A second secret UN Security Council ballot suggests former Portuguese Prime Minister Antonio Guterres remains the front-runner to become the United Nations’ next Secretary-General.

Diplomats say he received 11 favourable votes in the encourage, discourage or no opinion tally. Each of the 15 member states cast a vote.

Guterres came out with 12 encourages and three no opinions in the first poll, held on July 21. He was prime minister from 1995 to 2002 and served as the UN’s High Commissioner for Refugees for ten and a half years from June 2005.

Serbia’s former Foreign Minister Vuk Jeremic reportedly moved into second place, edging out Argentina’s Foreign Minister Susana Malcorra. Danilo Turk, former President of Slovenia dropped into fourth position.

Secret ballots will be held until the Security Council is unified on who should replace current chief Ban Ki-moon. With two five-year terms under his belt, the South Korean will step down at the end of the year.

Bulgaria’s Irina Bokova, currently director-general of cultural body UNESCO is in fifth place.

There are now six men and five women in the running for the post, after former Croatian Foreign Minister Vesna Pusic withdrew her candidacy on Thursday (August 4).

Led by Colombia, almost a third of UN member states are pushing for the organisation to elect its first female secretary-general. Of those countries, four (Spain, Uruguay, Venezuela and Japan) are in the Security Council.

However, Russia’s Ambassador to the UN Vitaly Churkin said hopes of a female leader were failing as “the people who have spoken so loudly about the need to support a woman have not done that when it came to the actual straw poll.”

Diplomats say it is hoped the council will recommend a candidate to the General Assembly for election by October, 2016. Of the 193 members, it is ultimately the five permanent veto-wielding council members who must agree on the candidate. They are the United States, Russia, Great Britain, China and France.

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