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Last Updated: Monday, 16 October 2006, 23:12 GMT 00:12 UK
Deadlock in Latin America UN race
The UN Security Council. File photo
A seat on the council gives some influence over key decisions
Voting in the fierce battle for one of Latin America's UN Security Council seats will go into a second day after delegates failed to end a deadlock.

After 10 rounds of voting neither of the leading nations, Guatemala and Venezuela, emerged as the victor in the election for the temporary seat.

Guatemala has forged ahead but is still short of the 124 votes needed to win.

Guatemala is backed by the US and Western diplomats over Venezuela - a strong critic of Washington.

Lobbying

The BBC's UN correspondent, Laura Trevelyan, says diplomats will now try to see whether enough of Venezuela's votes can be transferred to Guatemala for victory or whether a compromise candidate can come through with enough votes to win.

Costa Rica, Panama and Uruguay could emerge in the compromise.

Hugo Chavez
Venezuela's Hugo Chavez is a fierce critic of the US

The race has been the most dramatic at the Security Council since Cuba ran against Colombia in 1979, at the height of the Cold War, our correspondent says.

Guatemala was ahead in the early rounds of Monday's voting. Venezuela then drew level but in the final rounds it slipped back.

Round 10 ended with 77 votes for Venezuela to 110 for Guatemala, leaving Guatemala short of the two-thirds majority required. Further voting is set for Tuesday.

The US has warned that the work of the Security Council will become impossible if Venezuela wins and denounces President George W Bush at every turn.

Venezuela says every vote cast for it is a vote of conscience for the developing world.

Venezuela's UN ambassador Francisco Arias Cardenas blamed its performance in the vote on lobbying by the US.

"We're not competing with our brother country [Guatemala]," he said. "We are competing with the most powerful country on the planet."

Diplomats told Associated Press news agency that the campaign of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez may have hurt his country's chances.

President Chavez denounced George W Bush as "the devil" in a speech at the UN last month.

Rotated

With Iran, Darfur and North Korea on the agenda of the council in the coming months, a position on the Security Council gives some influence over key decisions.

Five of the UN Security Council seats are held permanently by China, the US, Russia, the UK and France.

The others are held by regional blocs from Africa, Latin America, Asia, Western Europe and Eastern Europe.

Other regional seats, which are rotated every two years, went to Indonesia, South Africa, Italy and Belgium in the first round of voting.

The 1979 battle between Cuba and Colombia took three months of voting to resolve, with Mexico eventually winning as the compromise candidate.



SEE ALSO
UN steps into US-Venezuela spat
25 Sep 06 |  Americas
Profile: The UN Security Council
03 Jan 06 |  Country profiles
Chavez tells UN Bush is 'devil'
20 Sep 06 |  Americas

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