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UN Security Council backs Guterres as next UN chief

UN Security Council backs Guterres as next UN chief
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The UN Security Council on Thursday unanimously backed former Portuguese premier Antonio Guterres to be the next UN chief as the world body’s powerful organ recommended to the General Assembly to appoint him for a five-year term.

The 15-member Council held a formal vote here to elect Guterres, 67, a day after it said the former UN High Commissioner for refugees had emerged as the “clear favorite” to succeed Ban Ki-moon, 72, as the 9th Secretary General.

Guterres’s name will now be considered by the 193-member General Assembly for final confirmation. The Assembly’s membership historically chooses the candidate that the Council decides upon.

The Security Council adopted the resolution, behind closed doors as is practice, recommending that the General Assembly appoint Guterres for a five-year term from January 1, 2017. The resolution needed nine votes in favour and no vetoes to pass.

India had congratulated Guterres on his election with Ambassador to the UN Syed Akbaruddin tweeting, “Congratulations and Best wishes. India welcomes Ant nio Manuel de Olivera Guterres as next Secretary General of @UN.”  Akbaruddin’s tweet was accompanied with a picture of Guterres shaking hands with External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj. Guterres had met Swaraj during his visit to New Delhi in July this year.

The Council had conducted a sixth straw poll yesterday in which Guterres received 13 encourage votes and two no opinion votes. None of the five veto-wielding permanent members voted against him, clearing the way for Guterres to become the world’s top diplomat. 

“Today after our sixth straw poll we have a clear favorite and his name is Antonio Guterres,” Russia’s envoy to the UN and President of the Council for October Vitaly Churkin had reporters after the straw poll.

“We wish Guterres well in discharging his duties as the Secretary General of the UN for the next five years,” Churkin had said.

Churkin also informed President of the UN General Assembly Peter Thomson that Guterres had emerged as the unanimous choice after the sixth informal and first colour-coded straw poll of the Security Council for the position of Secretary- General.

“The President thanked him for the information and said he was ready to further progress the process of appointing the next Secretary-General in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations,” Thomson’s office said. 

Guterres was Prime Minister of Portugal from 1995 to 2002 and then served as the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees from 2005 to 2015. 

Ban is the 8th Secretary-General in the organisation’s 70-year history. He took office in January 2007 and will be ending his 10-year tenure on December 31, 2016.  
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