According to diplomats familiar with the UN process of selecting a new Secretary General, South Korean Foreign Minister Ban Ki-moon is so far out in front of any other candidate that there is almost no chance of anyone else getting the necessary votes.
An informal poll among Security Council members later Monday could clear the path for Ban Ki-moon to become the world body's eighth secretary-general, by determining if any of the council's five veto-wielding permanent members opposed him.
Ban got 13 positive votes in an informal "straw poll" last week, far more than anyone else. One nation voted against him and another voted "no opinion," but the secret ballot did not reveal whether either was a veto holder — the United States, Britain, China, France or Russia.
The poll Monday was using ballots with different colors to differentiate the votes of permanent members from those of the 10 rotating nations.
Several council nations have pushed for a decision on Annan's successor this month to give the new U.N. chief time to prepare for assuming office Jan. 1. One candidate — Sri Lanka's Jayantha Dhanapala — pulled out after a poor showing in last week's poll.
The United States, which has led the calls for a speedy resolution of the issue, is believed to back Ban.
"It's been two months since the first straw poll and while some new candidates have come in, we're now at the point where some are beginning to withdraw," said U.S. Ambassador John Bolton. "So, I think we're ready to vote, we the United States, after the straw poll today."