The UN Security Council has five permanent members and 10 non-permanent members [File: EPA]

Portugal has won a seat on the UN Security Council after Canada abruptly withdrew from the contest.

In the first round of balloting by the 192-nation assembly on Tuesday, Germany won a seat for the Western allied group in a heated three-way race with Portugal and Canada.

John McNee, Canada's UN ambassador, made the surprise withdrawal announcement after a second round of balloting in the UN General Assembly in which Portugal received 113 votes and Canada just 78 votes - both short of the 128 votes required for victory.

Elected to the council six times before, Canada's last two-year term ended in 2000. Portugal has only been included twice before.

African, Asian and Latin American seats were uncontested, facilitating easy victories for South Africa, India and Colombia on the first ballot.

Pushing for permanency

India has been lobbying for a permanent seat with veto power.

South Africa is among the nations campaigning for a permanent Africa seat. South Africa has been elected once to the position, in 2007, and India has been a member of the group six times prior to this this year.

The council is made up of five permanent, veto-holding members - France, Russia, China, the UK and the US - as well as 10 non-permanent members.

Brazil, Gabon, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Nigeria and Lebanon are all on the council until 2011.

Source: Agencies