Libyan leader Moammar Gaddafi has selected a fiery former Nicaraguan foreign minister and U.N. General Assembly president, the Rev. Miguel d’Escoto Brockmann, to represent him at the United Nations.

The move comes exactly one month after Gaddafi’s government instructed U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon to withdraw the accreditation of his previous ambassador. Abdurrahman Mohamed Shalgham, who had broken with Gaddafi, urged the U.N. Security Council to pursue a war crimes investigation against members of the regime.

D’Escoto’s letter of appointment, dated Sunday, was written by Libyan Foreign Minister Musa Kusa, who defected Wednesday.

Susan E. Rice, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, questioned D’Escoto’s right to take the Libyan seat at the United Nations, noting that Kusa was no longer in the Libyan government.

“The first question is whether he has actually been appointed in any legitimate fashion that anybody needs to consider at this stage,” Rice told reporters outside the U.N. Security Council Wednesday evening.

Rice also noted that D’Escoto, who was born in Los Angeles but renounced his U.S. citizenship, arrived in the United States recently on a tourist visa.

“A tourist visa does not allow you to represent any country, Nicaragua, Libya, or any other at the United Nations,” Rice said. “Should he wish and should in fact the Libyan regime seek to renominate him by some legitimate representative of the Libyan government, which itself is questionable in its legitimacy, to be the putative Permanent Representative here, that person, if he were to be Mr. D’Escoto, needs to leave the United States and apply for an appropriate G1 visa. If he purports to be or act like a representative of a foreign government on a tourist visa, he will soon find that his visa status will be reviewed.”

The UN spokesman’s office said a D’Escoto press conference originally scheduled for Thursday morning had been rescheduled for 10 a.m. Friday at the United Nations.

Colum Lynch