By Kezia Agaba
Uganda’s foreign minister Sam Kutesa is the new President of the UN General Assembly.
Mr Kutesa, a lawyer and MP, has been Ugandan minister of foreign affairs since January 2005.
In his acceptance speech on Wednesday, Mr Kutesa said his unanimous election was a sign of trust and confidence in him and recognition of Uganda’s contributions.
He said the UNGA should focus on reducing poverty, fighting climate change and advancing gender equality.
“The scale and reach of most of the challenges we face, coupled with the limited capacity of many of those worst affected, requires that we address them collectively,” he said. “The UN exists to find solutions through our combined efforts.”
Earlier, more than 9,000 people signed an online petition urging UN member states and US Secretary of State John Kerry to block Mr Kutesa’s appointment.
Human rights activists say the Ugandan foreign minister played a role in the enactment of Uganda’s strict anti-gay law, passed in February, which allows for sentences of up to life in prison for those convicted of having gay sex.
Sam Kutesa, 65, was Africa’s unanimous pick for the largely ceremonial role at the UN headquarters in New York.