UN council elections head into extra rounds

AP News
Posted: Oct 21, 2011 7:29 PM
UN council elections head into extra rounds

Pakistan, Morocco, Guatemala, and Togo were elected to two-year U.N. Security Council terms on Friday, but the final decision on a fifth seat was postponed until next week.

U.N. General Assembly President Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser said voting will continue Monday after a ninth found of voting found neither of the two countries vying for the East Europe seat able to secure the two-thirds majority needed to join the United Nations' most powerful body.

The last tally had 113 votes for Azerbaijan and 77 for Slovenia. Hungary, which also had been a candidate for the sole East Europe slot, was knocked out of the running in an earlier round.

In Friday's voting, U.N. General Assembly members elected Pakistan, Morocco and Guatemala in the first round. Togo was elected in the third round.

The new members will assume their posts on Jan. 1 and serve through the end of 2013.

Security Council seats are highly coveted because they give countries a strong voice in matters dealing with international peace and security.

"We are honored and privileged to join such an esteemed body and look forward to the positive contributions we will make to its work in maintaining and promoting international peace and security," said Togo President Faure Gnassingbe, who traveled to New York for the vote.

The new makeup puts Pakistan on the council alongside its regional rival India, which like Colombia, Germany, Portugal and South Africa is serving a two-year term that wraps up at the end of 2012. They'll also serve with the five permanent, veto-wielding members: China, France, Russia, Britain and the United States.

"We had a very tough fight," Pakistani Ambassador Abdullah Hussain Haroon said. "Hopefully we will be working well with all of the other council members, especially India."

Because Guatemala has never recognized a Palestinian state, the new council may also be less inclined to support the Palestinians' request for U.N. membership in the unlikely chance the bid carries into the new year. Palestinian diplomats said this week they are trying to muster support for a Nov. 11 vote.

The only certain winner going into Friday's election was Guatemala, which ran unopposed for the sole seat for Latin America and the Caribbean. Two seats for Africa, one for Asia and one for Eastern Europe were all contested.

The five new members replace Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brazil, Gabon, Lebanon and Nigeria.

Because ballots are secret, multiple rounds of votes are common in Security Council elections. In 2007, a runoff between Guatemala and Venezuela went 47 rounds before Panama was finally offered, and accepted, as the Latin America candidate.