- Jul 5, 2004
- Reaction score
Looks like Chavez calling Bush the devil has backfired.
Venezuela stumbles in bid for UN seat
By Andy Webb-Vidal in Caracas and Mark Turner at the United Nations
Published: October 16 2006 18:15 | Last updated: October 16 2006 18:21
Venezuelan president Hugo Chávez on Monday appeared headed for a personal political defeat at the hands of US-backed Guatemala in his long-held goal to win a temporary seat at the United Nations Security Council.
Guatemala, which has never before held a non-permanent seat on the Security Council, beat Venezuela by 109 votes to 76 in a first round of voting at the General Assembly, and extended its lead to 114 votes versus 74 in the second round, and 116-70 in the third.
But in a fourth vote, Guatemala slipped back to 110 votes, while Venezuela rose back up to 75. Further rounds of voting were postponed until the afternoon.
While Guatemala had not yet garnered the two-thirds of votes it needed to win, as of Monday mid-day in New York, its larger-than-expected lead was a serious blow to the Venezuelan government.
Mr Chávez has travelled the world in recent months on a personal lobbying mission to persuade dozens of foreign leaders and governments to back his bid to win one of the two Council seats open to a Latin American nation.
But the Chávez government’s early defeat at the UN comes only six weeks ahead of December’s elections in Venezuela, in which Mr Chávez’s chances of winning re-election are narrowing, according to recent opinion polls.
Candidates backed by Venezuela in this year’s presidential elections in Peru and Mexico also lost, while Rafael Correa, the pro-Chávez candidate in Ecuador’s elections last Sunday, was forced into a second round of voting.
At the UN, if Guatemala failed to win a two-thirds majority there was a chance that a third, compromise candidate, such as Uruguay, could emerge.
Meanwhile, Indonesia, South Africa, Italy and Belgium all secured seats in the first round.
The only other contested race was Indonesia versus Nepal, with Jakarta winning 158 in favour, out of 192 countries. South Korea withdrew earlier in the race, when Ban Ki-moon, its foreign minister, emerged as the leading, and ultimately successful, candidate to become the next Secretary-General.
The new members will replace Argentina, Japan, Denmark, Greece and Tanzania, which complete their two-year terms at the end of the year. The UN Security Council has fifteen members, five of which are permanent, and ten of which serve two-year terms, alternating in groups of five.
The Republic of Congo, Ghana, Peru, Qatar and Slovakia will serve for another year.
Mr Chavez’ bid appears to have suffered from a controversial speech at the UN General Assembly, in which he called George Bush, the US President, the devil.
While most important Security Council decisions are dominated by the permanent five, veto-wielding members – the US, UK, France, China and Russia – any agreement needs at least 9 votes in favour, and politically a consensus is desirable.
The temporary members emerged as an important constituency in the debate over how to handle Iraq in 2003, and they have significant opportunity to disrupt proceedings.