Portugal's government says it will nominate former prime minister Antonio Guterres to become the next secretary-general of the United Nations.

Guterres was the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees until the end of last year, a post he held for 10 years.

He was elected Portugal's center-left prime minister in 1995 and resigned in 2002 after his Socialist Party lost heavily in municipal elections. He was also president of the Socialist International, a global association of political parties, from 1999 to 2005.

The Portuguese Foreign Ministry said in a statement Friday that Guterres' long political experience and the "exemplary" way he performed international duties gave him merit as a candidate.

Current U.N. secretary-general Ban Ki-moon concludes his term at the end of 2016 and all members are welcome to submit candidates.