Who is going to be the next U.N chief

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Who is going to be the next U.N chief

UNITED NATIONS: (APP) The former head of the U.N. refugee agency has emerged as a front-runner in the race to become the next U.N. secretary-general after a secret vote in the Security Council, according to diplomatic sources.

Antonio Guterres, also Portugal's former Prime Minister, is leading a pack of 12 candidates, receiving 12 of a potential 15 votes to succeed Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, whose term expires at the end of this year

Former Slovenian President Danilo Turk was second following a "straw poll". The vote was held in council chambers, and no results were officially released.

A second straw poll may be held next week.

Irina Bokova of Bulgaria, director-general of U.N. cultural organization UNESCO came in third, edging out former Serbian Foreign Minister Vuk Jeremic and former Macedonian Foreign Minister Srgjan Kerim, who tied for fourth.

Former New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark, who heads the U.N. Development Programme, was fifth, followed by Slovak Foreign Minister Miroslav Lajcak, Argentinian Foreign Minister Susana Malcorra, and former U.N. climate chief Christiana Figueres of Costa Rica.

Moldova's former foreign minister, Natalia Gherman, was in 10th place, followed by Montenegro Foreign Minister Igor Luksic and former Croatian Foreign Minister Vesna Pusic.

The 193-member U.N. General Assembly this year has sought to lift a veil of secrecy that has surrounded the election of the U.N. chief for the past 70 years by requiring public nominations and holding campaign-style town hall events with each candidate.

After the polling was concluded, Portugal's Foreign Minister Augusto Santo Silva welcomed the outcome, telling reporters it provides "clear incentive to Mr. Guterres' candidature and confirms that he is particularly qualified for the position of Secretary General."

The secrecy surrounding the vote - the 15-member Council did not release the results of the straw poll - angered U.N. envoys who had been pressing for greater openness in the process of selecting the secretary-general. Lykketoft - who was hosted a series of unprecedented public meetings in the General Assembly with the candidates - criticized he Security Council's discretion.

"In my view, limiting the communication to the fact that the informal straw poll has taken place without any further detail adds little value and does not live up to the expectations of the membership and the new standard of openness and transparency," he said.