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Panama fills last vacant Security Council seat

Panama emerges as compromise candidate to fill last vacant Security Council seat

New York, Nov 2 2006 Panama today emerged as the compromise candidate to fill the last remaining seat on the 15-member United Nations Security Council, breaking more than two weeks and 47 rounds of voting deadlock in the General Assembly that pitted Guatemala against Venezuela to represent the Latin American and Caribbean region.

The foreign ministers of the two rival countries decided to withdraw their candidatures at a meeting in New York and proposed Panama to the Group of Latin American and Caribbean States, General Assembly spokesperson Gail Bindley-Taylor Sainte told a news briefing.

“Both Ministers stressed that Panama was chosen as it was a country with which both nations had close ties,” she added.

The 192-member Assembly is expected to proceed with a formal vote on the consensus candidate on Tuesday.

Throughout the earlier voting Guatemala maintained its lead over Venezuela, except in one tie vote, but was never able to reach the necessary two-thirds majority to serve as the region’s member for a two-year term starting on 1 January, replacing Argentina.

In the final round on Tuesday, when 122 votes would have been enough to secure victory, Guatemala obtained 101 votes, Venezuela received 78, and Barbados, Ecuador and Uruguay received one vote each. There were seven abstentions.

At the start of this year’s balloting on 16 October Assembly members, following an agreed geographic allocation, elected Belgium, Indonesia, Italy and South Africa to serve as new non-permanent members, replacing Denmark, Greece, Japan and Tanzania when their terms end on 31 December.

The Council’s five other non-permanent members, whose terms end on 31 December 2007, are Congo, Ghana, Peru, Qatar and Slovakia. The five permanent members, the only ones with veto power when voting, are China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States.

Ends

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