Portugal’s former Prime Minister Antonio Guterres is poised to become the next UN secretary general, UN diplomats say. Mr Guterres, 67, was the “clear favourite”, Russia’s UN ambassador Vitaly Churkin announced on Wednesday. A formal vote will take place in the UN Security Council on Thursday to confirm the choice of nominee. Mr Guterres, who led the UN refugee agency for 10 years, will take over from Ban Ki-moon early next year. In a rare show of unity, all 15 ambassadors from the security council emerged from the sixth in a series of straw polls to announce that they had agreed on Guterres, who was UN high commissioner for refugees for a decade, and that they would confirm the choice in a formal vote on Thursday.
Antonio Guterres is an engineer by trade, Mr Guterres first entered into politics in 1976 in Portugal’s first democratic election after the “Carnation revolution” that ended five decades of dictatorship. Then Mr Guterres, fluent in Portuguese, English, Spanish and French, turned his attention to the world of international diplomacy, becoming the UN’s high commissioner for refugees in 2005.
In Lisbon, Prime Minister António Costa voiced “great satisfaction” over the U.N.’s choice of his friend and fellow Socialist elder statesman, who led Portugal’s government from 1995 to 2002.
The Security Council will adopt a resolution, traditionally behind closed doors, recommending that the General Assembly appoint Guterres for a five-year term from Jan. 1, 2017. The resolution needs nine votes in favor and no vetoes to pass. Thirteen people were nominated in the race to become the next UN chief, but three had already withdrawn before Wednesday’s secret ballot.