This moth, the 193-member United Nations General Assembly unanimously appointed former Portuguese Prime Minister Antonio Guterres as the ninth secretary-general of the would body for a five-year term that will begin on 1 January 2017.
Guterres, 57, will replace Ban Ki-moon, 72, of South Korea. Ban will step down at the end of 2016 after having served two five-year terms. Guterres was Portugal’s prime minister from 1995 until 2002 and UN High Commissioner for Refuges from 2005 until 2015. On 13 October, he pledged to act as an “honest broker” and stated that he would take a humble approach in trying to deal with global issues, in which human dignity will be at the core of his work. Speaking to the General Assembly, Guterres stated, “diversity can bring us together, not drive us apart…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,” adding, “these two reinforce each other, and we must be able to fight both of them with determination.”
At the start of this month, the 15-member UN Security Council unanimously recommended that the General Assembly appoint Guterres, who beat our twelve other candidates, seven of whom were women, amidst a push for the first woman to be elected.
Diplomats are now watching to see who Guterres will appoint to senior UN positions, amidst speculation by diplomats and UN officials that China would like one its nationals to head peacekeeping and that Russia is keen to lead political affairs. Currently, a French man runs peacekeeping, an American man leads political affairs and a British man is in charge of humanitarian affairs.
Mali’s interim government announced on Friday that the country’s presidential elections will go to a second round, which has been scheduled for August 11, after no candidates succeeded in securing a majority in the landmark polls.
Figures for Sunday’s ballot, which were announced on live television, indicated that former Prime Minister Ibrahim Boubacar Keita came in first in Mali’s presidential elections, gaining 39.2 percent of the vote, however he will face his main rival, ex-Finance Minister Soumalia Cisse, who attained 19.4 percent of the vote, after he failed to secure an outright majority. The results, which were announced by Territorial Administration Minister Moussa Sinko Coulibaly, are provisional and need to be confirmed by the West African nation’s Constitutional Court. No candidate gained the fifty percent of the vote that is necessary in order to declare a victory. Dramane Dembele, the candidate for Mali’s largest political party, the Alliance for Democracy in Mali, polled just 9.6 percent, taking third place. Twenty-four other presidential candidates also took part in the polls. It is widely believed that Mr. Dembele’s votes, along with those of fourth placed candidate Modibo Sidibe, which amount to a total of 14.5 percent, are likely to be transferred to Cisse in the run-off.
The announcement of a run-off will likely ease tensions which have risen since partial results earlier in the week gave Mr. Keita a large lead, indicating that he may win outright. Although Sunday’s voting was carried out in a peaceful manner, and has been praised by observer missions, Mr. Cisse’s party on Wednesday has announced that the elections had been marred by what it termed as “ballot stuffing,” a form of electoral fraud in which people submit multiple ballots during a vote in which only one ballot per person is allowed. Critics have argued that Mali, which was under pressure from the international community, may have rushed into the polls and risked mishandling the elections which would result in more harm than good. However the country has been praised by the international community for running a transparent, credible and peaceful election. In response to Wednesday’s allegations, acting President Dioncounda Traore and United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon have acknowledged that the vote may be “imperfect” in a country were 500,000 citizens continue to be displaced by a military coup that was launched in March 2012. They have however urged Malians to respect the outcome.
Despite heavy security during voting, after the Movement for Oneness and Jihad in West Africa, one of the main armed groups in northern Mali, announced that it would “strike polling stations more than 3.5 million Malians cast their ballot, resulting in a 51.5 percent turnout which eclipsed its next best of 38 percent. The turnout was also higher than the United States has managed in three of its presidential elections since 1984. This high turnout has in effect demonstrated that Malians are ready to get back to the democratic government that was present prior to a military coup which led to armed Islamist militants taking over the northern regions of the country.