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Clark no longer front-runner for UN post

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 22/07/2016
United Nations Development Programme Administrator Helen Clark speaks at a news conference at United Nations headquarters in New York last September. © REUTERS/Mike Segar United Nations Development Programme Administrator Helen Clark speaks at a news conference at United Nations headquarters in New York last September.

Helen Clark isn't one of the front-runners in the race to be the next secretary-general of the United Nations.

Reports from New York say the former prime minister didn't do well in the first secret ballot held by the Security Council to whittle down the 12 candidates.

Reuters reports Miss Clark ended up in fifth place, with former Portuguese prime minister Antonio Guterres leading the pack and former Slovenian president Danilo Turk coming in second. Bulgaria's Irina Bokova, director-general of Unesco, was third.

She edged out former Serbian foreign minister Vuk Jeremic and former Macedonian foreign minister Srgjan Kerim, who tied for fourth.

The 15-member council is holding a series of secret ballots, until it reaches a consensus on a candidate it can recommend to the General Assembly.

In the process, low-ranked candidates are expected to withdraw. Miss Clark appears to be popular in the 193-member General Assembly, where there's a feeling that it's time for a woman to head the UN.

But half the candidates are women, and the Security Council's recommendation is vital.

Ultimately, the five nations that hold a veto on the Security Council - the United States, Britain, France, Russia and China - must agree on a candidate and they don't have to pay any attention to the popularity of candidates within the General Assembly.

Previous reports have said Miss Clark, who heads the UN Development Programme, was one of the front-runners to take over from Ban Ki-moon when he steps down as secretary-general at the end of the year after two five-year terms.

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