NEW YORK, 5th October, 2016 (WAM) – Former Portuguese Prime Minister Antonio Guterres has emerged as the clear favourite to become the next United Nations Secretary-General following the sixth secret ballot held today by the UN Security Council, which is expected to take a formal decision tomorrow and forward Mr. Guterres’ name to the 193-Member General Assembly for final confirmation.

Ambassador Vitaly Churkin of Russia, which holds the Security Council presidency for the month, informed the President of the Assembly, Peter Thomson, that the sixth informal “straw poll” for the position of Secretary-General took place earlier today and Ant?nio Guterres emerged as the unanimous choice among the Council’s 15 members.

Mr. Churkin said the Security Council will meet tomorrow (6 October) at 10 a.m. to take a formal vote, which is expected to pass by acclamation, the Assembly President said. That decision would then be formally submitted to the General Assembly for its consideration.

In addition to Mr. Guterres, who served as the UN High Commissioner for Refugees from 2005 to 2015, 12 other candidates were in the running to succeed the current UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon, who leaves office at the end of the year, according to a press release issued by the UN News Centre on Wednesday.

Today’s decision by the Security Council brings the UN closer towards the culmination of an historic process: the selection of a new United Nations Secretary-General, traditionally decided behind closed-doors by a few powerful countries, has for the first time in history, involved public discussions with each candidate campaigning for the world’s top diplomatic post.