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Clark presses on despite poor UN poll

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 26/09/2016

Former prime minister Helen Clark has brushed off a disappointing poll in the race for the United Nations top job and says the next vote is more crucial.

Earlier this month Miss Clark earned six encourage votes, seven discourage and two no opinions, however at the fifth UN Security Council secret ballot on Monday in New York she tallied six encourage votes and nine discourage.

She remained seventh of the nine candidates.

Prime Minister John Key, who is strongly supporting Miss Clark's bid, says she'll be "a bit disappointed" with the latest poll but the result doesn't change anything for her.

"The really big vote happens in early October," he told reporters.

"Then we will get a sense of what vetoes the five permanent members will apply, not just to Helen Clark but the other candidates as well - if they start taking out some of the front-runners that gives her a gap to come through."

Former Portuguese Prime Minister Antonio Guterres continues to lead the pack, with 12 encourage, two discourage and one no opinion.

Former Serbian Foreign Minister Vuk Jeremic came in second while Slovakia's Foreign Minister Miroslav Lajcak was third.

"This was another positioning poll," Miss Clark said in a statement following the vote.

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

"There were more 'discourage' votes exercised against most candidates in this round. I am still in a group with most other candidates.

"I am pressing ahead towards the next poll."

The council will hold the next secret ballot on October 5, where the ballots cast by the five veto powers - the United States, France, Britain, China and Russia - will 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.

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.

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.

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