By Louis Charbonneau
UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - A former Nicaraguan foreign minister who was to become Libya's envoy to the United Nations has dropped those plans and instead will represent Nicaragua at the world body, U.N. officials said on Friday.
Nicaragua's U.N. mission has submitted a letter stating that Miguel D'Escoto Brockmann, a fierce critic of the U.S. government who once served in a leftist Sandinista government, will become the Latin American country's deputy ambassador, U.N. officials told Reuters.
On Tuesday, Nicaragua had said D'Escoto would be Libya's U.N. envoy after most diplomats at the Libyan U.N. mission, including the ambassador and his deputy, defected from the government of Muammar Gaddafi in February and sided with rebels who launched an uprising.
Tripoli then appointed senior diplomat Ali Treki, a close associate of Gaddafi and former U.N. General Assembly president, as its U.N. envoy but he defected to the opposition as well after leaving Libya.
It was not clear when D'Escoto, a Catholic priest, would formally present his credentials to represent Nicaragua to U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, though U.N. officials said it could be soon.
"It (the letter) says that he is to be appointed as the deputy permanent representative of Nicaragua to the U.N.," U.N. spokesman Farhan Haq said. "The letter is being studied."
Libya's deputy U.N. ambassador Ibrahim Dabbashi has told Reuters that he and other Libyan envoys are carrying on "business as usual" at the mission in midtown Manhattan, where diplomats are flying the rebel flag.
U.S. Ambassador Susan Rice had cast doubts on the legitimacy of Tripoli's appointment of D'Escoto, who was named to the post by former Libyan foreign minister Moussa Koussa. Koussa defected to Britain on Wednesday saying that he no longer wished to represent Gaddafi's government.
The Nicaraguan government of leftist President Daniel Ortega said on Tuesday D'Escoto had flown to U.N. headquarters in New York to "support our Libyan brothers in their diplomatic battle to enforce respect for its sovereignty."
U.N. officials said D'Escoto was now back in Nicaragua.
D'Escoto, a former president of the U.N. General Assembly, was born in the United States but renounced U.S. citizenship.
He once called former President Ronald Reagan "the butcher of my people" and angered U.S. officials with his criticism of Israel and U.S. policy while at the United Nations from 2008-09.
D'Escoto was foreign minister in an earlier Ortega administration that ruled Nicaragua from 1979-90 and that fought an insurgency by U.S.-backed rebels. He was born in Los Angeles and ordained as a Roman Catholic priest.
(Editing by Vicki Allen)