UNSC Balloting On Hold For Five Days

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The balloting to choose the Latin American member on the UN Security Council has been put on hold for at least five days while a compromise is sought. US Ambassador John Bolton called on the country that has lost 28 of the 29 ballots held so far to withdraw. That would be Venezuela, of course, and they show no signs of doing so. Guatemala will not step aside unless Venezuela does so as well.

After three days and 30 rounds of balloting, Guatemala still led Venezuela by 20 to 30 votes on Thursday. But neither country has achieved the required two-thirds majority in the 192-member U.N. General Assembly.

At issue is an open Latin American seat in the 15-nation Security Council contested by Guatemala, backed by the Bush administration, and Venezuela, which sees the race as a battle against Washington and its U.N. ambassador, John Bolton.

"Mr. Bolton has not been able to keep us out of the race," said Venezuelan U.N. Ambassador Francisco Arias Cardenas.

Armed with petrodollars, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has tried to form an alliance with nations in Asia, Africa and the Middle East to challenge Washington's interests.

Failure to win a council seat would represent a setback for Chavez's ambitions for a bigger international profile.

Several Latin American ambassadors said the voting, which has paralyzed the General Assembly for three days this week, would stop on Friday for other assembly business as well as Monday and Tuesday for the Muslim Eid al-Fitr holiday.

'THEATER OF THE ABSURD'

Guatemalan Foreign Minister Gert Rosenthal said he favored a longer recess and fewer ballots in this "theater of the absurd" but other nations, including Venezuela, disagreed.

Rosenthal said that, as long as Venezuela remained in the race, he had no alternative but to continue.

Bolton agreed and said, "The honorable thing would be for the candidate who has now lost 28 out of 29 votes to withdraw. Venezuela insists on putting everybody through all this — vote after vote after vote."

(T)Hugo is not doing very well at all, is he?

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