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Libya, Burkina Faso and Vietnam Win Security Council Seats

Libya, Vietnam and Burkina Faso won seats on the powerful U.N. Security Council on Tuesday and Costa Rica and Croatia were assured of victory after their opponents dropped out.

Costa Rica and the Dominican Republic were fighting for a Latin American seat and Croatia and the Czech Republic were battling for an East European seat. But the Dominican Republic and the Czech Republic abandoned the fight after they trailed in the second round of voting.

A third round of voting was needed to officially confirm Costa Rica and Croatia as the winners.

Libya — which in some quarters was viewed as the most controversial candidate — was virtually assured of election because it has been endorsed by the African group along with Burkina Faso, and faced no opposition. Vietnam, which was endorsed by the Asian group, also ran unopposed.

General Assembly President Srgjan Kerim announced after the first round of balloting that Burkina Faso received 185 votes, Vietnam 183 votes and Libya 178 votes. He then declared them elected as diplomats from the 192 U.N. member states burst into applause.

In the first round, Croatia received 95 votes and the Czech Republic 91 votes, and in the second round the vote was 106 for Croatia and 81 for the Czech Republic. Costa Rica received 116 votes and the Dominican Republic 72 votes in the first round, and in the second round the vote was 119 for Costa Rica and 70 for the Dominican Republic.

The five new nonpermanent members of the council will serve two-year terms starting Jan 1. The ballot was secret, and candidates needed a two-thirds majority of those voting to win.

Last year's election saw the third-longest battle in U.N. history for a seat on the council.

It ended with victory for Panama on the 48th ballot after U.S.-backed Guatemala and leftist Venezuela led by anti-American President Hugo Chavez withdrew to end the deadlock for a Latin American seat.

Most council diplomats expect this year's race for the East European seat between Croatia and the Czech Republic and the contest for the Latin American seat between Costa Rica and the Dominican Republic to go several rounds — but not as many as last year's contest.

Until September, there was a three-way race for the two African seats but Mauritania dropped out in the expectation that Libya would support its candidacy in 2012-2013.

Susan Cohen, of New Jersey, who lost her 20-year-old daughter, Theodora, in the 1988 bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland, said the United States should oppose Libya's candidacy for a seat because Libyan leader Moamar Gadhafi was responsible for the attack.

"I feel that the U.S. has totally lost its moral compass," she told The Associated Press. "Gadhafi blew up an American plane."

In 2000 the United States successfully blocked Sudan's bid for a council seat, and Washington's candidate, Mauritius, won. But in 2005, the U.S. backed Nicaragua and Peru won. This year, Washington did not back a candidate against Libya.

Ten of the council's 15 seats are filled by the regional groups for two-year stretches. The other five are occupied by its veto-wielding permanent members: Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States.

The five countries elected to the council will take their seats on Jan. 1, 2008, replacing the Republic of Congo, Ghana, Peru, Qatar and Slovakia. The five countries elected last year — Belgium, Indonesia, Italy, Panama and South Africa, will remain on the council until Jan. 1, 2009.