Panama has been elected on the UN Security Council to a two-year term after being chosen as a compromise candidate by the 34-member group of Latin American and Caribbean nations to end the stalemated contest for the seat between Guatemala and Venezuela.
In the balloting held on Tuesday, Panama received 164 votes in the 192-member General Assembly, more than the 120 needed to win the council membership whose term begins on January 1.
Venezuela got 11 votes, Guatemala four and Barbados one. There were nine abstentions.
"The ambassador of Guatemala thanked the members of the Assembly for their patience and congratulated the people and government of Panama," Assembly spokeswoman Gail Bindley-Taylor Sainte told a news briefing.
Venezuela's ambassador also thanked the Assembly for "support and understanding," she said, adding that he voiced his hope of Panama being an independent, impartial and balanced member of the Security Council.
Yesterday's vote came after the foreign ministers of Guatemala and Venezuela decided to withdraw their candidatures at a meeting in New York late last week and proposed Panama on behalf of the group.
Guatemala had maintained its lead over Venezuela throughout the earlier voting, except in one tie vote, but couldn't reach the necessary two-thirds majority to serve as the region's member, replacing Argentina.
In the 47th round held a week ago, when 122 votes would have been enough to secure victory, Guatemala obtained 101 votes, Venezuela 78, Barbados, Ecuador and Uruguay received one each.
There were seven abstentions. Panama's victory came in the 48th ballot round.
The result was announced by General Assembly President Sheikha Haya Rashed Khalifa who was delighted over the election of all the five new members of the Security Council
At the start of the balloting on October 16, Assembly members following an agreed geographic allocation elected Belgium, Indonesia, Italy and South Africa to serve as the new non-permanent members replacing Denmark, Greece, Japan and Tanzania at the end of their term on December 31.
The Council's five other non-permanent members, whose terms end on December 31, are Congo, Ghana, Peru, Qatar and Slovakia.
The five permanent members--the only ones with veto power-- are China, France, Russia, Britain and the United States.