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At UN, Power of Secret Ballot Shown in Low Saudi Vote, US Said to Face

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, November 11 -- The only contested race for the UN Human Rights Council on November 12 is in the Western European and Other Group, among the US, Sweden, Germany, Greece and Ireland. Significantly, it will be a secret ballot.

  Friday night between the UN and the East River, in its Ambassadors River View tent, several African Permanent Representatives told Inner City Press that the secret ballot makes all the difference.

  As one example, they said Saudi Arabia always gets less support when it's a secret ballot than when, for example on Syria, it is public.

  When it's second, one said, you find out what people think. This Permanent Representative predicted a surprisingly low level of support for the United States, "even after Obama's re-election."

  Click here for when Inner City Press asked US' Harold Koh about drone use.

    There was also much discussion, on Friday evening, of Eritrea's win for the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions earlier in the day. To some, it showed the remaining power of an African Union endorsement (even though also AU endorsed Benin dropped out after the first of two rounds.) It was said that even Eritrea's neighbors Ethiopia and Djibouti voted for the Eritrean candidate, Tesfa Alem Seyoum.

Others said that the result left Africa without seniority and experience on ACABQ. This was expressed, not only but primarily, but SADC and West African / Francophone Ambassadors.

  When Benin dropped out, the Francophone vote shifted to Senegal, whose candidate Babou Sene beat out the incumbent chairman from Botswana, Collen Kelapile, and the "carpet-bagging" candidate from Kenya. And so it goes at the UN.

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