United Nations, N.Y.
The United States suffered a sharp diplomatic rebuff here when, against all expectations, Nicaragua was elected Tuesday to a seat in the Security Council, Monitor correspondent Louis Wiznitzer reports.
Nicaragua and the Dominican Republic were seeking the seat allocated to Latin America on the Council, and one of Nicaragua's supporters believed, only hours before the vote started, that the fight would last several months and probably end in a deadlock.
The US had vigorously lobbied against Nicaragua in UN corridors and in hundreds of capitals abroad. Yet Nicaragua was elected on the third ballot, 104 votes against 50.
In another upset Malta defeated New Zealand, its competitor, for a seat allocated to the Western nations.
Informed diplomats here gave several reasons for Nicaragua's triumph:
* Many third-world nations saw a chance by voting in secret ballot to express their resentment of US pressure to vote against Nicaragua.
* Some Western nations and some nonaligned countries opposed to the idea of destabilizing Nicaragua voted for the Sandinista regime in the hope that the US would treat Nicaragua differently as a member of the Security Council.
* In Western Europe and in the third world, Nicaragua is not perceived as it is in the US, as another Soviet-backed Cuba.
New Zealand's defeat is explained by observers here this way:
* Its rugby team, the Springboks, played in South Africa two years ago.
* It was Britain's staunchest supporter during the Falklands crisis.
* Malta is the only Western European country that is nonaligned and therefore received strong nonaligned support.