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United Nations appoints Antonio Guterres as new secretary-general

The UN General Assembly has chosen former Portuguese Prime Minister Antonio Guterres to lead the international organization. Guterres also served as the UN's refugee chief.

The body's 193 members on Thursday appointed Antonio Guterres as the new secretary-general. The 67-year-old will replace Ban Ki-moon of South Korea and is expected to take over his new position from January 1, 2017.

The president of the UN General Assembly, Peter Thomson, praised the transparent selection process, saying, "I'm confident that Mr Guterres will serve the global community with dedication as a moral authority and be the voice of our moral conscience and humanity throughout his term."

In his campaign, he pledged to promote human rights and enact reforms within the UN system, often perceived as being slow in responding to disasters, winning unanimous support from the Security Council last week. Following the vote, he pledged to serve "the most vulnerable."

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Guterres feels 'humility and gratitude'

France's Ambassador to the UN, Francois Delattre, described Guterres as the "best possible captain during this stormy period" of global crises and praised him for being a "humanist with a genuine moral compass."

"He is able to do both the outward leadership, the vision, the inspiration, the setting of direction but also the internal reform to drive efficiency, to improve processes and to make the whole more than a sum of parts," Delattre told AFP news agency.

Guterres was Portugal's prime minister from 1995 to 2002 and also served as the UN's High Commissioner for Refugees from 2005 to 2015. He is expected to play a more prominent role than his predecessor, Ban Ki-moon, especially in the context of the ongoing wars in Syria, Yemen and South Sudan, and the refugee crisis.

mg/jm (AFP, AP, Reuters, dpa)

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