Libya, Vietnam and Burkina Faso were elected to nonpermanent seats on the United Nations Security Council for the years 2008-09 on Tuesday.

The three countries were unopposed and obtained the required two-thirds majority of votes in favor from the 192-member U.N. General Assembly.

There was no first-ballot result in the contests between Croatia and the Czech Republic and Costa Rica and the Dominican Republic, respectively, for the other two council seats up for election this year.

Croatia got 95 votes to the Czech Republic's 91, and Costa Rica took 116 compared with 72 for the Dominican Republic.

A second ballot was being held.

Winners will take seats on the 15-member council on January 1 for a two-year period. Nonpermanent members have no veto.

The contest between Croatia, a former Yugoslav republic never on the council before, and the Czech Republic, which served from 1994-95, was expected to be close. Both campaigned hard and Croatian Prime Minister Ivo Sanader and his Czech counterpart Mirek Topolanek held separate eve-of-the-vote meetings on Monday with U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

Costa Rica appeared to have a strong lead over the Dominican Republic in the Latin America and Caribbean contest which, whatever its outcome, will mean that no South American country will be represented on the council next year.

Costa Rica has sat on the council twice before, and the Dominican Republic never has. Dominican officials said Foreign Minister Carlos Morales Troncoso had held more than 45 bilateral meetings with other U.N. delegations to seek support. Costa Rica has also waged a vigorous campaign,

Few, however, expect a repeat of last year's Latin American epic, when 47 rounds of balloting failed to give the required two-thirds majority to either Venezuela or U.S.-backed Guatemala. After three weeks, both withdrew and Panama was elected as a compromise candidate.

Libya's election to the council is another big step in its journey back to international respectability after years in which the West accused it of sponsoring terrorism.

But human rights groups that call Libya and Vietnam undemocratic have already expressed dismay at the prospect of them sitting on the council, which can dispatch peacekeeping forces or impose sanctions.

Countries that will leave the Security Council on December 31 are Congo Republic, Ghana, Peru, Qatar and Slovakia. Remaining on it are Belgium, Indonesia, Italy, Panama and South Africa, along with the veto-holding permanent members the United States, Russia, Britain, France and China.