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UN Elects Ex-Sandinista as Assembly President


The 192-member United Nations General Assembly has elected for one-year term a former Nicaraguan Foreign Minister and Catholic priest as its new president. From VOA's New York Bureau, correspondent Barbara Schoetzau reports Miguel D'Escoto Brockmann will oversee the annual General Assembly debate with world leaders in September.

D'Escoto was elected by acclamation to take over as head of the 63rd session September 16. He was the only candidate of the Latin American and Caribbean region which was in line for the rotating post.

D'Escoto, the son of a Nicaraguan diplomat, was born in the United States in Los Angeles. He was ordained as a Roman Catholic priest and, later, admonished by Pope John Paul for his involvement in politics. But he continued to support the Sandinista National Liberation Front and was appointed foreign minister when the insurgents came to power in 1979. He remained in that position until the Sandinistas lost power in 1990.

D'Escoto's first meeting with the news media after his election got off to a rocky start as several reporters asked questions about his criticisms of the United States over the years. D'Escoto says he has always had great love for the United States, regardless of his opposition to some U.S. policies. At the same time, he says his top priority will be to end the dominance of the United States and Europe at the United Nations, especially on the powerful Security Council.

"I hope my presidency will address what has become a universal clamor all over the world for the democratization of the United Nations. I promise to give full support to the working group on the revitalization of the General Assembly. I bring nothing new. It is a matter of emphasis," he said.

D'Escoto says other priorities will include dealing with rising prices worldwide for food and energy.

D'Escoto will succeed Srgjan Kerim of Macedonia.

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