Thu, Oct 19, 2006 - Page 7 News List

Venezuelan bid deadlocks UN Security Council vote

AP , UNITED NATIONS

Venezuela refused to abandon its bid for Latin America's seat on the UN Security Council despite trailing Guatemala in 12 straight rounds of voting, creating a deadlock that led to new calls for the region to put forward a compromise candidate.

In Tuesday's last vote -- the 22nd over two days -- Guatemala garnered 102 votes to Venezuela's 77. That result, similar to that of many of the previous rounds in the General Assembly, was short of the two-thirds majority of 120 needed to win, and diplomats said it appeared that neither would be able to bridge the gap.

Despite trailing US-backed Guatemala, President Hugo Chavez said Tuesday that Venezuela will not abandon its bid for a UN Security Council seat.

"Venezuela does not surrender," Chavez said in a speech on Tuesday night. "I say it here to the whole world, Venezuela will continue waging this battle."

Chavez called it a struggle against the US "empire" and accused Washington of waging what he called a fierce campaign of "blackmail, pressure, threats of all sorts."

The General Assembly was to take a day off from voting yesterday to allow Latin American and Caribbean nations time to seek a way out of the standoff. The 23rd ballot will be held today.

"It looks like things are frozen," Ghana's UN Ambassador Nana Effah-Apenteng said.

Usually, the 10 rotating seats on the council are filled quietly, with the regional groups they are reserved for agreeing on a candidate to take the two-year term. But Guatemala and Venezuela both covet the seat that will be vacated by Argentina on Dec. 31, and their standoff has split the 32-nation Latin American and Caribbean Group.

Venezuelan UN Ambassador Francisco Arias Cardenas said his country would only leave the race if the US agreed to lift the pressure on nations to vote for Guatemala.

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