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UN appoints Antonio Guterres as next secretary-general

Secretary General-designate Antonio Guterres of Portugal (L) is greeted by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon at the UN headquarters in New York. Photograph: (Reuters)

WION New York, NY, United States Oct 13, 2016, 11.14 PM (IST)

The United Nations General Assembly, that comprises of 193 members, unanimously appointed former Portuguese prime minister Antonio Guterres as the ninth secretary-general on Thursday.

Guterres will replace Ban Ki-moon of South Korea, who will step down at the end of 2016 after serving two five-year terms.

Guterres was  Portugal's prime minister from 1995 to 2002 and has served as the UN High Commissioner for Refugees from 2005 to 2015.

His term as secretary-general of the world body begins on January 1.

Guterres pledged on Thursday to act as an "honest broker", Reuters reported.

"Diversity can bring us together, not drive us apart," Guterres told the General Assembly, Reuters reported.

"We must make sure that we are able to break this alliance between all those terrorist groups or violent extremists on one side and the expressions of populism and xenophobia on the other side," he said. "These two reinforce each other, and we must be able to fight both of them with determination.", Guterres said,

He beat 12 other candidates, including many women, amid a push for the first woman to be elected as secretary-general.

Guterres told the General Assembly that protection and empowerment of women and girls was his priority commitment. He also pledged to work towards the gender parity within the UN. 

"We have selected a candidate who is prepared to cut past the jargon and the acronyms and the sterile briefings and get real," US Ambassador Samantha Power told the General Assembly, Reuters reported.

"He knows the only measure of our work here is whether we are or are not helping and supporting real people."

A senior UN Security Council diplomat told Reuters that several people had insisted that Guterres did not do any deals to win Russia and China's votes.

"(Guterres is) the sort of person who will pick a strong team around him, appointment on merit," said the diplomat, adding that, while he had not heard it directly from any Chinese diplomats "it is clear (China is) making a significant challenge for the Department of Peacekeeping.”

 

(WION with inputs from Reuters)

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