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Portugal’s Guterres Set to be U.N.’s Next Secretary General | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Antonio Guterres, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), arrives for a news conference at the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland December 18, 2015. REUTERS/Denis Balibouse/File photo

New York-Portugal’s former Prime Minister Antonio Guterres is poised to become the successor of South Korea’s Ban Ki-moon in leading the United Nations following a decisive vote by the Security Council on Wednesday.

But the council will undertake a formal vote on Thursday to confirm the choice of Guterres.

Once it formally endorses him, Guterres will be presented to the General Assembly for approval. The new U.N. secretary general begins his five-year term on January 1.

Russian Ambassador Vitaly Churkin emerged from the council chamber along with the 14 other ambassadors to declare that Guterres was on course to succeed Ban as the world’s diplomat-in-chief.

“We have a clear favorite and his name is Antonio Guterres,” he said.

But the council will officially vote on Thursday to confirm its choice, Churkin told reporters.

“We wish Mister Guterres well in discharging his duties as the secretary general of the United Nations in the next five years,” the diplomat added.

During the secret ballot, Guterres, 67, won four positive votes and one “no opinion” from veto holders, clearing the way for him to become the new U.N. chief.

Veto powers Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States used color-coded ballots to indicate for the first time whether they intended to block a candidate.

Britain’s U.N. Ambassador Matthew Rycroft paid tribute to all the candidates and in particular the women.

“Although it’s high time for a woman … the most important thing for the UK was the qualities of leadership of this position,” he told reporters.

The diplomat said that Guterres he will make a “very strong, effective secretary-general.”

U.S. Ambassador Samantha Power described Guterres’ experience and vision as “compelling” and stressed the need for an effective leader at the U.N. helm during a time of multiple global crises.