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UN: Clark losing support for UN's top job

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 26/09/2016 By Peter Mitchell, NZN US Correspondent

Former New Zealand prime minister Helen Clark is losing support in her historic bid to become the first woman to head the United Nations, but she has no plans to quit the race.

Miss Clark finished equal seventh in the UN Security Council's fifth secret ballot held in New York on Monday for the soon-to-be vacant secretary-general's position.

It was one position better than the fourth poll on September 9.

But, in a disappointing sign for her campaign, nine of the 15 countries on the Security Council gave her "discourage" votes, two more than the last poll.

Miss Clark told supporters she was continuing her campaign and looking forward to the next phase of the vote.

"Many thanks to UN Security Council members who continued to support me," Miss Clark wrote on Twitter.

Miss Clark had just six "encourage" votes and no "no opinion" votes, well behind frontrunner former Portuguese prime minister Antonio Guterres who once again topped the list with 12 "encourage", "two discourage" and one "no opinion".

It appears two countries that gave Miss Clark "no opinion" votes on September 9 switched over to the "discourage" camp.

Miss Clark had just seven discourage votes in the fourth poll.

The decline is a blow after Miss Clark and New Zealand Prime Minister John Key aggressively courted votes with world leaders during last week's UN General Assembly in Manhattan, but it might not be a death blow to her cause.

The Security Council has become increasingly toxic the past week, with permanent Security Council members the US, Great Britain and France angrily confronting Russia at an emergency session on Sunday for its military support of Syrian president Bashar al-Assad's regime.

The five permanent Security Council members, including China, can veto any candidate.

Russia is pushing for an eastern European candidate to be successful, with the region yet to have a secretary-general in the UN's 70-year history.

The US, Great Britain and France could take out Russia's preferred eastern European candidates, while Russia could veto frontrunner Guterres, leaving Miss Clark as one of the few candidates standing.

Their strategies will be clearer at the next vote on October 5 with, for the first time, the permanent members' ballots a different colour to the 10 non-permanent nations.

In the latest vote, former Serbian foreign minister Vuk Jeremic jumped from third to second place, Slovakia's Foreign Minister Miroslav Lajcak slipped from second to third while Argentinian Foreign Minister Susana Malcorra rose from seventh to equal fourth.

Former Slovenian president Danilo Turk moved up from sixth to fourth while UNESCO director-general Irina Bokova of Bulgaria dropped from fifth to sixth.

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