Wed, Oct 17, 2007 - Page 6 News List

Four nations battling for two seats in this year's UN Security Council election


It is Croatia versus the Czech Republic and Costa Rica versus the Dominican Republic in this year's battle for seats on the powerful UN Security Council.

But Libya -- which in some quarters is viewed as the most controversial candidate -- is virtually assured of election because it has been endorsed by the African group along with Burkina Faso and faces no opposition.

Vietnam, which was endorsed by the Asian group, is also running unopposed.

The 192-member General Assembly was scheduled to meet yesterday to vote for five new nonpermanent members of the council to serve two-year terms. In the secret ballot, candidates must get a two-thirds majority of members voting to win.

Last year's election saw the third-longest battle in UN history for a seat on the council.

It ended with victory for Panama on the 48th ballot after US-backed Guatemala and leftist Venezuela withdrew to end the deadlock for a Latin American seat.

Most council diplomats expect this year's race for the East European seat between Croatia and the Czech Republic and the contest for the Latin American seat between Costa Rica and the Dominican Republic to go several rounds -- but not as many as last year's contest.

Until last month, there was a three-way race for the two African seats but Mauritania dropped out in the expectation that Libya would support its candidacy in 2012-2013.

Susan Cohen, of Cape May Court House, New Jersey, who lost her 20-year-old daughter, Theodora, in the 1988 bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland, said the US should oppose Libya's candidacy for a seat because Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi was responsible for the attack.

"I feel that the US has totally lost its moral compass," she said. "Qaddafi blew up an American plane."

In 2000 the US successfully blocked Sudan's bid for a council seat, and Washington's candidate, Mauritius, won.

But in 2005, the US backed Nicaragua and Peru won. This year, Washington did not back a candidate against Libya.

Ten of the council's 15 seats are filled by the regional groups for two-year stretches. The other five are occupied by its veto-wielding permanent members: Britain, China, France, Russia and the US.

The five countries elected to the council will take their seats on Jan. 1, replacing Congo, Ghana, Peru, Qatar and Slovakia.

The five countries elected last year -- Belgium, Indonesia, Italy, Panama and South Africa, will remain on the council until Jan. 1, 2009.

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