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Donald Trump gives plum UN role to vocal critic

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By Catherine Hardy  with Reuters
Donald Trump gives plum UN role to vocal critic

US President-elect Donald Trump has picked South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley to be the US ambassador to the United Nations.

Haley was critical of him during his election campaign and has little foreign policy experience.

The choice was announced by Trump’s transition team.

“Governor Haley has a proven track record of bringing people together, regardless of background or party affiliation, to move critical policies forward for the betterment of her state and our country,” the Republican president-elect said in a statement.

Who is Nikki Haley?

  • 44 years old
  • Daughter of Indian immigrants
  • Active voice of tolerance

Haley sharply criticised Trump during the presidential campaign over his harsh rhetoric about undocumented migrants.

She condemned Trump during the Republican presidential primary for not disavowing the support of white supremacist group the Ku Klux Klan and one of its leaders, David Duke.

Haley also criticised Trump for not releasing his tax returns.

This prompted the New York real estate mogul to hit back on Twitter, “The people of South Carolina are so embarrassed of Nikki Haley!”

Countering criticism?

Commentators say the choice of Haley as the US ambassador to the UN may be aimed at countering criticism of Trump’s divisive comments about immigrants and minorities as well as accusations of sexism during his election campaign.

A possible vice president?

During the early days of the primary contest to pick this year’s Republican presidential nominee, Haley was mentioned as a possible vice presidential pick.

She supported Trump rivals Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz, both US senators.

But last month she said she would vote for Trump, despite reservations about his character.

Little foreign policy experience

Haley, a state lawmaker before becoming governor, has little experience in foreign relations.

She will succeed Obama’s UN envoy Samantha Power in the high-profile position.

The US is one of the five permanent veto-wielding powers on the 15-member UN Security Council.

The others are Russia, China, France and Britain.

Washington is the largest funder of the 193-member UN, paying more than a quarter of the 8 billion US dollar peacekeeping budget.

It funds 22 percent of the overall budget.