The UN Security Council was to hold its third straw poll on Thursday among the seven declared candidates vying to succeed Secretary-General Kofi Annan whose terms ends at the end of the year.
The informal preliminary vote, scheduled to be held at 4 PM EDT (20:00 GMT), will for the first time include Latvian President Vaira Vike-Freiberga and former Afghan finance minister Ashraf Ghani who had missed the previous two polls.
South Korean Foreign Minister Ban Ki-moon, a career diplomat, topped either of the first two straw polls in which council members chose among three choices for each candidate - "encourage," "discourage" and "no opinion."
In the last poll that ended on Sept. 14, Ban received 14 votes of "encourage" and only one vote of "discourage."
Council members disagreed on Wednesday on whether to distinguish the ballots of the permanent members and the nonpermanent members by using different colors in Thursday's poll.
US Ambassador John Bolton pushed for a quick decision on the selection process, saying it was time to use colored ballots.
"Our view is that there should be (different colors). I think we've reached that time in the decision making process," Bolton told reporters on Wednesday.
"It would be useful to know where the permanent members stand at least anonymously but to know where they stand compared to the nonpermanent members, since when we go to an actual vote, a no vote by a permanent member amounts to a veto," he said.
UN diplomats said Britain insisted on holding another straw poll without colored ballots to give the same chance to the Latvian president and the former Afghan minister, who entered the race only recently.
A compromise was reached after council members agreed to conduct Thursday's straw poll without colored ballots but to use them in another informal poll planned on Monday.
The other four declared candidates are UN Under Secretary-General Shashi Tharoor of India, Thailand's Deputy Prime Minister Surakiart Sathirathai, Jordan's UN Ambassador Prince Zeid Ra'ad Zeid Al-Hussein and Jayantha Dhanapala, a Sri Lankan presidential advisor and former UN undersecretary-general for disarmament.
The UN Charter stipulates that the Security Council recommends a candidate to the 192-member UN General Assembly for confirmation.
Under an unwritten rule of regional rotation, it is generally accepted among the members states that the next UN chief come from Asia.
(Xinhua News Agency September 29, 2006)