Chavez accuses US of waging 'dirty war'

Monday, October 16, 2006 (Caracas): President Hugo Chavez has vowed that Venezuela will win a seat on the UN Security Council.

He, however, accused Washington of waging "a dirty war" against his country in a last ditch effort to prevent it from defeating US-backed Guatemala.

"Go forth with the bayonet! Venezuela is going to the Security Council," Chavez said on Monday, encouraging Venezuela's ambassador to the United Nations, Francisco Arias Cardenas, on the eve of the vote.

Chavez, a close ally of Cuban leader Fidel Castro, has repeatedly warned that Washington could attempt to drag out the October 16 vote for weeks or even years if neither candidate garners the required two-thirds majority.

'Imperialist' policies
The United States is supporting Guatemala and hopes to stop Chavez from winning a seat on council - a platform to voice opposition to what he calls Washington's imperialist policies.

The US government warns that Chavez, whose government maintains friendly ties with North Korea and Iran, would be a disruptive force on the 15-member council.

Both Venezuela and Guatemala say they have a majority in the 192-member UN General Assembly ahead of Monday's secret vote.

If neither side gains two-thirds of the vote after repeated ballots, the 33-nation Latin American group could offer another candidate.

Chavez argues that is what US officials want to see happen.

Countries are not obliged to make known their preference, though much of the Caribbean and South America have voiced their support for Venezuela.

The 53 countries in the African group are expected to tilt towards Venezuela, while Asia's 54 nations are said to be split.