Kazakhstan beats Thailand in race for Asian seat on Security Council

United Nations: Kazakhstan beat Thailand in the second round of hotly-contested elections to become the first former Soviet Asian country to win a seat on the Security Council Tuesday after a deadlock in the initial balloting for the Asian slot. Kazakhstan received 138 votes in the new voting, passing the two-thirds bar of 129 votes in the 193-member General Assembly to succeed Malaysia. The first round was deadlocked with Astana receiving 113 to Bangkok's 77. Thailand received only 55 in the second round. A deadlock continued for one of the two European seats into the third round, with neither the Netherlands nor Italy getting the needed two-thirds of the votes in the three rounds of voting. Sweden won election in the first ballot to one of the seats. Assembly President Mogens Lykketoft postponed further rounds of voting for the European seat till later in the afternoon to enable diplomatic efforts to break the deadlock. Ethiopia was unanimously proposed by the African group and Bolivia by the Latin American-Caribbean bloc, making their first round victories a mere formality. The defeat was a diplomatic setback for Thailand, which is currently the head of the Group of 77, the 134-member group of developing countries. But this leadership position failed to help it win despite a campaign that began in 2013. Kazakhstan's pitch was that no other former Soviet Asian nation had ever been on the Council. It also campaigned on its leadership in nuclear disarmament, having given up its nuclear weapon stockpile and playing a prominent anti-proliferation role. Half of the 10 non-permanent seats with two-year terms come up for election every year. The elections used to be held in October, but the General Assembly moved them to June starting this year to give the new members more preparation time before they take their seats on the Council on New Year's Day. The winds of change blowing across the UN parting in its wake the veils of secrecy led to the candidates for the contested seats participating in campaign debates held for the first time at the UN. It was sponsored by the World Federation of UN Associations (WFUNA). The debates brought to a public forum the campaigning that began years ago. While Thailand reportedly brought delegations of diplomats to Bangkok in its lobbying efforts, Kazakhstan tried to boost its profile by holding a food festival at the UN in March. Sweden's Prime Minister Kjell Stefan Lofven personally called several leaders around the world to seek votes. In its manifesto, Astana spoke of its role in working for peace and stability in Afghanistan and hosting talks on the Iranian nuclear issue, and chairmanship of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation and Shanghai Cooperation Organisation.