Thailand defeated in UNSC bid

Thailand defeated in UNSC bid

Foreign Minister Erlan Idrissov of Kazakhstan (center) gets hugs and handshakes after Kazakhstan won the Security Council seat early Wednesday Thailand time. (AFP photo)
Foreign Minister Erlan Idrissov of Kazakhstan (center) gets hugs and handshakes after Kazakhstan won the Security Council seat early Wednesday Thailand time. (AFP photo)

UNITED NATIONS - Kazakhstan easily defeated Thailand's bid for a non-permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council, with just 55 countries backing Thailand against 138 for Kazakhstan.

As the balloting got under way, delegates at the 193-nation General Assembly were handed gift bags with miniature tulips and wooden shoes from the Netherlands, Baci chocolates from Italy and a Buddha image from Thailand.

The gifts apparently had little effect. Thai officials on Tuesday said they were very optimistic about winning the seat, but the second-round voting wasn't close. Kazakhstan needed 129 votes to win by the required two-thirds, and ended up with nine votes more than it needed.

Neither Kazakhstan nor Thailand gained the required two-thirds majority of those present and voting in the 193-member General Assembly in Round 1, but Kazakhstan cruised to the election win in Round 2.

Kazakh Foreign Minister Yerlan Idrissov said, "We are very proud to be the first central Asian country to serve on the council" and pledged to focus on nuclear non-proliferation and development.

Close to Russia, Kazakhstan gave up its nuclear arsenal after the breakup of the Soviet Union.

Sweden, Ethiopia and Bolivia also were elected to the UN Security Council for 2017-18, but further voting was due to take place to decide the final seat with Italy and the Netherlands almost locked in a tie.

After three rounds of voting by the 193-member UN General Assembly, The Netherlands had 96 votes, while Italy had 94. Countries need more than two-thirds of the vote to win a seat.

The General Assembly elected Sweden with 134 votes in favour, Ethiopia with 185 and Bolivia with 183 in the first round of voting.

Kazakhstan beat Thailand with 138 votes in favour in the second round of voting.

Kazakhstan thus will replace Malaysia on the council from Jan 1, 2017. Other countries leaving after their two-year term are Angola, New Zealand, Spain and Venezuela

The council is made up of 10 elected members - five voted on each year - and five permanent veto-powers who are the United States, Britain, France, China and Russia. The council is the only UN body that can make legally binding decisions.

Applause rang out at the assembly hall after Sweden's victory was announced.

Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallstrom said she was "happy and proud" to see her country join the UN's top table, pledging to focus firmly on conflict resolution.

"With 40 conflicts and 11 full-blown wars, it is a very, very worrisome world that we have to take into account," Wallstrom said.

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