Kutesa Elected UNGA President

The U.N. General Assembly has elected the foreign minister of Uganda Sam Kutesa as president of its 69th session.

69th UNGA President, Sam Kutesa
69th UNGA President, Sam Kutesa

Sam Kutesa has been Uganda’s foreign minister on and off since 2005, under President Yoweri Museveni.

He most recently garnered international attention for defending the Ugandan government’s harsh anti-homosexuality law that the president signed in February.

In the past, Kutesa has survived political censure by the Ugandan parliament following a corruption scandal, though no formal charges were brought against him.

However, questions have been raised about a company he once chaired and is believed to still own shares in, Entebbe Handling Services, or ENHAS, which has contracts with at least one U.N. peacekeeping mission in Africa.

A U.N. spokesperson said the organization is trying to ascertain its current relationship with ENHAS, and whether it presents a conflict of interest.

According to the U.N.’s procurement website, the company has been a registered vendor with it since June 2006.

Kutesa would not be the first controversial candidate to lead the General Assembly.

During his assembly presidency, in January 2013, former Serbian foreign minister Vuk Jeremic outraged Bosnian groups and some member states after he had a song played during a U.N. event that was associated with massacres during the Balkan wars.

In 2008, Father Miguel D’Escoto Brockmann, a Catholic priest and former foreign minister under Nicaragua’s left-wing Sandinista government, headed the body and attracted criticism for some of his statements, particularly about the U.S. and Israel.

Barring that unlikely outcome, Kutesa will be proclaimed president of the 69th session of the General Assembly on Wednesday and take up his duties in September.

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