United Nations: Former Portuguese Prime Minister Antonio Guterres still leads the race to become the next UN Secretary-General after a third UN Security Council (UNSC) secret ballot on Monday, diplomats said.
The 15-member council cast a ballot for each of the remaining 10 candidates, and the choices were: encourage, discourage or no opinion. Guterres received 11 encourage, three discourage and one no opinion, diplomats said.
The UNSC will hold secret ballots until a consensus is reached on a candidate to replace UN chief Ban Ki-moon of South Korea who steps down at the end of 2016 after serving two five-year terms.
Guterres, who was prime minister of Portugal from 1995 to 2002 and served as UN High Commissioner for Refugees from June 2005 to December 2015, also won the first two rounds of secret ballots by the UNSC.
In the second ballot on August 5 he picked up 11 encourage, two discourage and two no opinions, while in the first poll on July 21, Guterres received 12 encourages and three no opinions.
“Some favourites are emerging,” British UN ambassador Matthew Rycroft told reporters on his way in to the poll on Monday, adding he would encourage some candidates to consider dropping out.
“The whole point of the straw polls is to gradually winnow down the field,” he said.
In Monday’s poll Slovakia’s foreign minister Miroslav Lajcak jumped to second spot with nine encourage, five discourage and one no opinion, followed by Irina Bokova of Bulgaria, who is director-general of UN cultural organisation UNESCO and former Serbian foreign minister Vuk Jeremic, who both had seven encourage, five discourage and three no opinion, diplomats said.
Argentinian foreign minister Susana Malcorra dropped to fifth spot from third, followed by former Macedonian foreign minister Srgjan Kerim and former New Zealand prime minister Helen Clark, who heads the UN Development Programme.
Former Slovenian President Danilo Turk, Moldova’s former foreign minister Natalia Gherman and former UN climate chief Christiana Figueres of Costa Rica filled the last three spots.
Former Croatian foreign minister Vesna Pusic dropped out of the race prior to the second ballot, while Montenegro foreign minister Igor Luksic withdrew last week.
Civil society groups and nearly a third of the 193 UN member states, led by Colombia, have pushed for the first woman secretary-general. But hopes for a woman to lead the UN appear to be fading.
Diplomats said the council aimed to recommend a candidate to the 193-member General Assembly for election by October. Ultimately, the five permanent veto-wielding council members – the United States, Russia, Britain, China and France – must agree on a candidate.