India welcomes Antonio Guterres as next UN Secretary-General

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India has welcomed the selection of Portugal’s former premier Antonio Guterres as the next UN Secretary General to replace Ban Ki-moon.

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“Congratulations & Best wishes. India welcomes Antonio Manuel de Olivera Guterres as next Secretary General of @UN,” India’s Ambassador to the UN Syed Akbaruddin tweeted.

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.

Guterres, the 67-year-old former head of UN’s refugee organisation for 10 years, emerged as a leading candidate in all of the Security Council’s straw polls.

The 15-nation Council 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 9th Secretary General of the UN.

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

Flanked by the Permanent Representatives of the 14 Council members, Churkin said the Council will meet again to take a formal vote, which is expected to pass by acclamation.

That decision would then be formally submitted to the General Assembly for its consideration.

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

Ban’s Deputy spokesman Farhan Haq told reporters at the daily press briefing that the Secretary-General, who is currently in Rome, is aware of the latest developments and will await the official action by the General Assembly on his successor’s formal selection.

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.

After the UNSC formal vote, Guterres’s name will be forwarded to the 193-Member General Assembly for final confirmation.

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 31 December, 2016.

Guterres’s selection for the post of the world’s top diplomat slashed hopes for a woman to succeed Ban Ki-moon.

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