updated 10/10/2005 2:14:30 PM ET 2005-10-10T18:14:30

Congo, Qatar, Slovakia and Ghana won easy election to the U.N. Security Council on Monday, and Peru defeated Nicaragua in the only contested race.

The five new members will serve two-year terms starting Jan. 1.

Monday’s election by the 191 members of the U.N. General Assembly confirmed the four candidates selected by regional groups from Africa and Asia and Eastern Europe.

But the Latin American seat was contested, with Peru and Nicaragua both waging intense campaigns. The lobbying for votes continued as ambassadors gathered in the General Assembly hall until Assembly President Jan Eliasson banged the gavel for voting to begin.

To win a council seat, a country needed support from two-thirds of the member that voted.

In the secret ballot, Congo received 188 votes, Qatar 186 votes, Slovakia 185 votes, Ghana 184 votes and Peru 144 votes.

Nicaragua got 43 votes in its losing campaign, and Indonesia — which wasn’t a candidate — got one vote.

Eliasson announced the results, saying “I congratulate the states which have been elected members.”

U.S. sees anti-terror cooperation
U.S. Ambassador John Bolton refused to disclose how he voted, but said “we’re just pleased with the outcome of the five countries that have been elected.” The United States plans to consult with all the newly elected countries at the United Nations and in their capitals, he said.

The United States is “looking forward to working with all of the five new nonpermanent members on issues like counterterrorism, proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, and also the focus on more effective peacekeeping, more effective Security Council resolution of political disputes,” Bolton said.

While there is widespread support among the 191 U.N. member states to expand the 15-member Security Council to reflect the geopolitical realities of the 21st century, there is no agreement on how large it should be, who should get seats, whether the new seats should be permanent or temporary, and who should have veto power.

Heated debate on expansion
Secretary-General Kofi Annan had hoped to get members to agree on an expansion plan before last month’s U.N. summit, but instead the debate became so heated and divisive that the issue was shelved.

The council currently has five permanent members with veto power -- the United States, Britain, Russia, China and France — and 10 non-permanent members who serve two-year terms and have no power to veto resolutions.

The 10 elected members enjoy all other aspects of council membership, including the right to propose resolutions, chair committees and hold the rotating council presidency for one-month periods.

Five countries are elected every year by the General Assembly to replace five retiring ones.

Congo, Qatar, Slovakia, Ghana and Peru will replace Algeria, Benin, Brazil, Philippines and Romania, whose terms expire on Dec. 31. The new members join Argentina, Denmark, Greece, Japan and Tanzania, who were elected last year and will remain on the council until the end of 2006.

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