London-Former Portuguese Prime Minister Antonio Guterres, 10th U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees, has been selected as the new United Nations Secretary-General to succeed Ban Ki-moon.
Observers at the U.N. headquarters in New York expected the appointment of Guterres because the Portuguese engineer and communist politician, who led his country in 1995-2002, had successfully managed the cases of refugees when he served at the U.N. Refugee Agency.
Politically, the Portuguese politician has been accepted by all major countries that have considered him a wise, responsible, moderate, non-debatable figure, who has never supported any side in the ongoing conflicts around the world.
Antonio Manuel de Oliveira Guterres was born on 30 April 1949 in Lisbon, Portugal; he is a catholic communist politician and diplomat who has global interests and speaks several languages. He was married twice and has two children.
He studied physics and electrical engineering at the higher institution of Technology at the University of Lisbon; after his graduation, he worked as an assistant teacher.
After three years, during a critical phase in Portugal and with the last days of dictatorship, the young engineer stepped into the world of politics and joined the Portuguese Communist Party in 1974. His love for politics has pushed him to leave engineering and his work as a university professor and dedicate his time for partial political work.
Guterres participated in the Carnation Revolution that toppled the dictatorship of Marcello Caetano heir of Antonio Salazar in 1974; he represented the Communist Party in the Parliament for one of Lisbon’s areas and maintained his membership in the parliament till 1995.
In 1988, Guterres headed his party’s bloc in the parliament; in 1992 he was elected as the Secretary General of the party and opposed the right-winged Prime Minister of Portugal at that time Cavaco Silva.
*Prime Minister of Portugal
After the retirement of Silva, the Portuguese Communist Party succeeded in winning the elections and beating the social democrats, which led Guterres to the premiership; his party’s victory continued in the elections of 1999 and 2000 when it won the presidency of the European Parliament.
Then, the popularity of communists had deteriorated and Guterres left the party’s leadership to dedicate all his time to the International Communist Association that he was presiding.
In May 2005, he was elected as a U.N. Commissioner for Refugees; during his service, he launched and supervised an operation of structural reform in the Commission that comprises around 10,000 employees in 125 countries. The operation he led contributed to improving the efficiency of cost and enhanced the commission’s response to emergencies.
*Battle of the United Nations
Ten candidates competed to succeed the South Korean Secretary General including international figures like Bulgarian Irina Bokova, who is the director General of UNESCO, and Helen Clark, a New Zealand politician. However, Guterres has won the position and will begin his mission on the first of January 2017. The appointment of the Portuguese politician as the new U.N. chief has been greeted by many including the British, U.S. and U.N. Ambassadors to the world body.