May 21, 2016 / 1:41 AM / 2 years ago

Argentina's Macri nominates foreign minister for U.N. chief job

BUENOS AIRES (Reuters) - Argentine President Mauricio Macri on Friday nominated Foreign Minister Susana Malcorra as a candidate to become Secretary-General of the United Nations, in a vote that may hand the top job to a woman for the first time ever.

Argentine Foreign Minister Susana Malcorra speaks at a joint news conference with Chinese counterpart Wang Yi at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Beijing, China, May 19, 2016.REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon

The United Nations formally kicked off the race for the next secretary-general in December and the world body’s 193 members were encouraged to consider putting forward a woman for the top job. A man has held the position since its inception 70 years ago.

Malcorra, 61, has only served in Macri’s government since the center-right businessman took office in December, unseating Peronists who dominated Argentina for 12 years with interventionist policies.

Previously, she had stints at the U.N. World Food Programme, and served as Ban’s chief-of-staff. She has also worked as chief executive at Telecom Argentina.

Under an informal tradition of rotating the top post between regions, it is Eastern Europe’s turn and six of the current nominees are from there.

But some diplomats speaking privately last month said former Portugal Prime Minister Antonio Guterres and former New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark were leading the pack after each nominee was quizzed for two hours by the General Assembly.

Reporting by Eliana Raszewski and Walter Bianchi; Editing by Alistair Bell

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