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Controversial Ugandan minister wins UN post

Sam Kutesa elected unopposed as the UN General Assembly president, despite criticism over past and gay law petition.

Last updated: 11 Jun 2014 23:47
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Sam Kutesa was previously ousted as a junior investment minister over claims he abused his office [FILE: AP]

Uganda's Foreign Minister Sam Kutesa has been elected president of the United Nations General Assembly, despite being once implicated in corruption scandals at home and his alleged role in the enactment of Uganda's new anti-gay law.

Kutesa was elected as president on Wednesday unopposed and to a round of applause from member states, then congratulated by Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.

"Minister Kutesa brings wide-ranging experience to the job: lawyer, parliamentarian, finance minister and foreign minister," Ban told the assembly.

"I wish him every success as he takes up his important responsibilities," Ban said.

Kutesa said he would use the position to develop an agenda to eradicate poverty and hunger, create employment and provide a better future for all.

Kutesa assumes the role as the nominee of the African group of nations, whose turn it was to take on the presidency.

At least two senators from New York criticised Kutesa's appointment, and more than 13,200 people signed an online petition urging US Secretary of State John Kerry to block him from taking up the post.

The petition cites his implication in corruption scandals at home and his alleged role in the enactment of Uganda's new anti-gay law.

The minister was previously ousted as a junior investment minister over claims he abused his office.

The US-based Human Rights Campaign, which promotes lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equal rights, called his tenure "a black mark on the United Nations' commitment to protect the human rights of all individuals.

"It's deeply disturbing that a man who calls LGBT people 'disgusting' and played such a critical role in the promotion and passage of Uganda's Anti-Homosexuality Act is assuming this post," the group said on its website.

The bill, signed by Uganda's President Yoweri Museveni in February, calls for "repeat homosexuals" to be jailed for life, outlaws the promotion of homosexuality and obliges citizens to denounce gay individuals to the authorities.

The law drew international condemnation, with US Secretary of State John Kerry likening it to anti-Semitic legislation in Nazi Germany and the European Parliament backing sanctions against Uganda.

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