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Nigeria elected into UN Security Council

By The Rainbow
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The UN General Assembly Thursday elected Chad, Chile, Lithuania, Nigeria and Saudi Arabia to a two-year term in the UN Security Council (UNSC), the organisation’s most powerful body.

The new members will begin their two-year term Jan 1, 2014, replacing Azerbaijan, Guatemala, Morocco, Pakistan and Togo, Xinhua reported. All the five new council members were elected in the single round of secret ballots at the General Assembly.

Nigeria's electionresulted from months intense lobby for Nigeria's inclusion in the United Nations Security Council.

Saudi Arabia and Chad easily won the seats despite criticisms from human rights groups.

Nigerian and four other candidates, endorsed by regional groups, faced no opposition, as there were no contested races for the first time in several years.

Hailing Nigeria's inclusion as a Security Council member, President Goodluck Jonathan welcomed the development and conveyed Nigeria's appreciation of the support of all member countries of the UN who voted for the country's election.

Nigeria garnered 186 votes, Chad won 184 votes, Saudi Arabia 176, Lithuania 187 and Chile 186, said John William Ashe, the president of the UN General Assembly.

Chad, Saudi Arabia and Lithuania have never served on the most powerful UN body while Nigeria and Chile have both been on the council four times previously.

To be elected, a country must win support from two-thirds of the 193 General Assembly members, or 129 votes.

According to the UN Charter, the 10 non-permanent members of the Security Council are elected by the General Assembly, with five elected in October each year.

The remaining five seats belong to the veto-wielding permanent members, namely Britain, China, France, Russia and the US.

Security Council seats are highly coveted because they give countries a strong voice in matters dealing with international peace and security in places like Syria, Iran, North Korea as well as the UN's far-flung peacekeeping operations. Under the UN Charter, the Security Council has the primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security.

Philippe Bolopion, United Nations Director for Human Rights Watch, denounced the election of Chad, Nigeria and Saudi Arabia.

'The prestige of a seat at the world's foremost diplomatic table should prompt the new members to get their houses in order,' he said.

'Chad should put an end to the recruitment of child soldiers, which earned it a spot on the UN list of shame,' he said. 'Saudi Arabia should end its crackdown on human rights activists and grant women their full rights,' he added.

Bolopion also criticised Nigeria, saying it should 'end the chronic abuse by security forces and better protect civilians in the north' from attacks by the Boko Haram terrorist network.

Hillel Neuer, Executive Director of Geneva-based human rights group UN Watch, accused Saudi Arabia of denying women the right to vote, drive a car or travel without the permission of a male relative.

He also accused it of 'praising and shielding Sudan' whose president, Omar al-Bashir, is wanted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) for war crimes and crimes against humanity in Darfur.

Neuer said Chad should not have oversight on UN peacekeeping operations as long as it employs child soldiers.

Chad, Saudi Arabia and Lithuania have never served on the UN's most powerful body, while Nigeria and Chile have both been on the council four times previously. Seats in the Security Council are allocated by region, with regional groups nominating candidates. These are often hotly contested races.

This year, there were initially two candidates for a West African seat but Gambia dropped out last week in favour of Nigeria.

To win, each country must obtain support of two-thirds of all General Assembly members present. Because balloting is secret, there is intense lobbying for votes by candidates, even in uncontested races, to ensure they get the minimum number needed for victory and to see who gets the highest vote.

Hailing Nigeria's inclusion as a Security Council member, Jonathan welcomed the development and conveyed the country's appreciation of the support of all member countries of the UN who voted for Nigeria's election.

A statement issued by his Special Adviser, Media and Publicity, Dr. Reuben Abati, said: 'On behalf of the federal government and people of Nigeria, President Jonathan wishes to convey his sincere appreciation of the support of all member-countries of the United Nations who voted for Nigeria's election to the Security Council.

'The president believes that today's endorsement of Nigeria's candidature for the Security Council seat by the vast majority of member-countries is a glowing expression of support and encouragement for Nigeria's active participation in the promotion of peace, security and political stability in Africa and other parts of the world.

'This is the fourth time since it became independent in 1960 that Nigeria is being elected to the UN Security Council. It is also the second time (2010-2011 and 2014-2015) that Nigeria will be elected to the Council under the Jonathan presidency.

'The president is particularly delighted by this historic victory and assures the global community that Nigeria, under his leadership, will continue to make very significant contributions towards the achievement and sustenance of global peace and security.'

Also the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) described Nigeria's election as an unprecedented feat and a testament to the achievements of the Jonathan-led PDP administration.

The party, in a statement by its National Publicity Secretary, Olisa Metuh, said the development had clearly shown that the world recognises the efforts of the present administration in repositioning our country through the president's transformation agenda.

'Today, Nigeria has taken its rightful place in the comity of nations. The winning of the UN Security Council Seat is indeed a clear indication that the world recognises the untiring efforts of the President Goodluck Jonathan-led PDP administration in repositioning our country through its Transformation Agenda.

'The securing of the UN seat is clear evidence that the world acknowledges President Jonathan's efforts towards security, the economic wellbeing and political stability of our dear country. 'President Jonathan has indeed distinguished himself as a statesman and world leader who has given his country a strong voice in matters dealing with international peace and security.

'Nigerians the world over, can now hold their heads up high. We are indeed very proud of our dear president who has remained focused on delivering on his mandate; a commitment that has today resulted in the restoration of the dignity of our country and her pride of place in world affair.

'We therefore call on all Nigerians to continue to support the PDP-led administration and its Transformation Agenda.'