VIENNA, June 9 (Xinhua) -- A Japanese diplomat defeated his rivals in a straw poll Tuesday to succeed Mohamed ElBaradei as head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), sources within the UN nuclear watchdog said.
Yukiya Amano, Japan's ambassador to the IAEA, won the informal poll with 20 votes from the agency's 35-nation board, and will probably win the formal election July 2.
Five candidates were running for IAEA chief. South African diplomat Abdul Samad Minty, backed by developing countries, finished second with 11 votes, while Spanish nuclear expert Luis Echevarri was third with four ballots.
There was no support for the other two candidates, Belgium's Jean-Pol Poncelet and Slovenia's Ernest Petric.
ElBaradei will step down when his term expires in November. The IAEA board needs to appoint his successor and submit it for approval at the IAEA General Conference in September.
On March 26, the agency's board held a closed-door meeting to choose between Amano and Minty. But neither of the two diplomats won a two-thirds majority of votes, so the board started a new round of voting and the current five candidates were nominated.