"Today after our sixth straw poll we have a clear favourite and his name is Antonio Guterres,'' the Russian UN ambassador, Vitaly Churkin, told reporters with his 14 council colleagues standing behind him.
''We have decided to go to a formal vote tomorrow morning at 10 o'clock, and we hope it can be done by acclamation."
The abrupt end to the UN leadership race came as a surprise. Many observers had expected the selection process to go on late into October as the major powers struggled to promote their favourite candidates. And some thought that Russia, currently holding the presidency of the security council, would block Guterres, as Moscow had said it wanted an eastern European in the top UN job.