Helen Clark lags behind in UN Secretary-General race

  • 27/09/2016

Former Portuguese Prime Minister Antonio Guterres continues to lead the race to become the next United Nations Secretary-General, while New Zealand's Helen Clark remains behind.

The 15-member Security Council cast their votes in a fifth secret ballot overnight for each of the remaining nine candidates, giving each candidate either an encourage vote, discourage or no opinion.

Mr Guterres again received 12 encourage, two discourage and one no opinion, diplomats said.

Mr Guterres, who was Prime Minister of Portugal from 1995 to 2002 and served as United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees from June 2005 to December 2015, also won the first four rounds of secret balloting by the Security Council.

Former Serbian Foreign Minister Vuk Jeremic came in second with eight encourage, six discourage and one no opinion, while Slovakia's Foreign Minister Miroslav Lajcak was third.

New Zealand's candidate, former Prime Minister Helen Clark, has come seventh equal in the latest poll with six encouragement votes out of 15. The other nine votes were discourage.

The former Kiwi Prime Minister has placed between sixth and eighth in previous voting rounds, however this time two neutral votes were replaced by discourage votes. 

Ms Clark says overall votes in this ballot were more negative than previously.

"There were more ‘discourage’ votes exercised against most candidates in this round," Helen Clark said in a statement.

Ms Clark says she is "pressing ahead" until the next round of voting when countries with veto power will reveal their votes.

"We did not expect the results to be very different from the previous poll and this turned out to be the case."

The Security Council 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.

The council will hold the next secret ballot on October 5, Russian UN Ambassador Vitaly Churkin said.

He said during that vote, the ballots cast by the five veto powers - the United States, France, the UK, China and Russia - would be a different colour from the votes of the remaining 10 council members, though they remain anonymous.

This allows candidates to see if they could be facing a veto.

A candidate is expected to be selected in October.

Reuters / Newshub.