By Michelle Nichols
UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - Former Portuguese Prime Minister Antonio Guterres still leads the race to become the next United Nations Secretary-General after a fourth U.N. Security Council secret ballot on Friday, diplomats said.
The 15-member council cast a ballot for each of the remaining 10 candidates, and the choices are: encourage, discourage or no opinion. Guterres received 12 encourage, two discourage and one no opinion, diplomats said.
This is a slight improvement on his third round result of 11 encourage, three discourage and one no opinion.
Slovakia's Foreign Minister Miroslav Lajcak hung on to second spot with 10 encourage, four discourage and one no opinion, diplomats said. This was also a slight improvement on his last result of nine encourage, five discourage and one no opinion.
The Security Council will hold secret ballots until a consensus is reached on a candidate to replace U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon of South Korea who steps down at the end of 2016 after serving two five-year terms.
(Reporting by Michelle Nichols; Editing by Phil Berlowitz)