Managua (Nicaragua), June 9 (IANS) Catholic priest and former President of the UN General Assembly Miguel D’Escoto has died following a long illness, the government reported. He was 84.

D’Escoto was also a former Foreign Minister. He headed the UN General Assembly from 2008-2009.

He died in a hospital here, first lady and Vice President Rosario Murillo said, reading a communique, Efe news reported.

The government headed by Sandinista Daniel Ortega expressed its “profound dismay and sadness” over the death of D’Escoto, the first priest to occupy the UN presidency.

D’Escoto was born February 5, 1933, in Los Angeles and was ordained a priest of the Maryknoll Missionary Society in New York in 1961.

As an adherent of the doctrine of “liberation theology,” he secretly joined the Nicaraguan Sandinista National Liberation Front (FSLN).

He began collaborating with the FSLN in 1975 through the Solidarity Committee in the US and backed the armed revolution that on July 19, 1979, overthrew the Somoza dictatorship that had ruled Nicaragua for 42 years.

After the triumph of the Sandinista revolution, D’Escoto was named Foreign Minister by the Ortega government.

Authorized by his congregation to serve as Foreign Minister for the Left wing government, D’Escoto was suspended as a priest by The Vatican. Pope Francis, however, reinstated him as a priest in 2014.

During his tenure as Minister, Nicaragua sued the US in 1984 before the International Court of Justice at The Hague, which ruled against Washington in 1986 and ordered it to pay reparations to Managua, which the US never did.

In Ortega’s first defeat at the polls on February 25, 1990, losing to Violeta Chamorro, D’Escoto was elected to a seat in the Nicaraguan Congress.

After Ortega’s return to power in January 2007, D’Escoto was named an adviser to the President on border issues and international relations.

This is published unedited from the IANS feed.