Ugandan foreign minister elected head of UN General Assembly

Sam Kutesa chosen despite criticism of support for anti-gay bill and political record

Criticism of Ugandan Foreign Minister Sam Kutesa’s support for his country’s anti-gay law and his alleged abuse of office did not prevent his being elected president of the UN General Assembly.

Kutesa was unanimously chosen for the position, even as more than 9,000 signed a petition calling on the UN to stop him from taking up the mostly ceremonial role, the BBC reports.

Prior to the foreign minister’s election, Maria Burnett, of Human Rights Watch, was quoted as saying that “there are real concerns about Sam Kutesa’s commitment to the values embodied in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, including his defence of Uganda’s profoundly discriminatory anti-homosexuality law.”

Milton Allimadi, publisher and editor-in-chief of New York-based Black Star News, echoed Burnett’s concerns and further alleges that Kutesa and Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni are complicit in the invasion of neighbouring countries South Sudan, Rwanda and Democratic Republic of the Congo, actions that violate the United Nations’ principles regarding “respect for national sovereignty and territorial integrity.”

But Kutesa brushed aside the criticism, saying his election is proof that UN member countries trust him.

BuzzFeed says the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC) was not particularly vocal in its opposition to the Kutesa presidency, with the organization’s program director, Marianne Møllman, quoted as saying that the IGLHRC intends to remind the new General Assembly president to observe UN principles, instead of waging what it felt would have been a futile campaign to prevent him from assuming office.

Natasha Barsotti is originally from Trinidad and Tobago in the Caribbean. She had high aspirations of representing her country in Olympic Games sprint events, but after a while the firing of the starting gun proved too much for her nerves. So she went off to university instead. Her first professional love has always been journalism. After pursuing a Master of Journalism at UBC , she began freelancing at Xtra West — now Xtra Vancouver — in 2006, becoming a full-time reporter there in 2008.

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