South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley has been chosen by Donald Trump as US ambassador to the United Nations. Picture: AP
SOUTH Carolina Governor Nikki Haley, President-elect Donald Trump’s pick for ambassador to the United Nations, was relatively unknown on the national stage until a mass shooting in her state vaulted her to prominence.
The June 2015 massacre at a historic black church in Charleston laid bare some of the racial tensions that persist in South Carolina, which in 1860 became the first state to secede from the United States ahead of the Civil War.
South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley, right, and her husband Michael Haley. Picture: APSource:AP
Gov. Haley, the daughter of Indian immigrants, spoke out forcefully against the shooting by a young white man and led efforts for the divisive Confederate flag to be pulled from the South Carolina state capital.
The removal of the flag was seen by some as a watershed moment for race relations in the state.
If confirmed by the Senate, Gov. Haley, 44, would become the first woman member of Trump’s cabinet.
South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley along with her family, husband Michael, daughter Rena, and son Nalin. Picture: APSource:AP
Raised as a Sikh, she is also the first minority in Trump’s list of otherwise white-only top administration officials. Gov. Haley now identifies as Christian.
Gov. Haley was sharply critical of Mr Trump during the election campaign and endorsed Florida Senator Marco Rubio during the Republican primary race before backing Senator Ted Cruz.
South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley came out in favour of Senator Marco Rubio to be the Republican nominee. Picture: APSource:AP
Her nomination could go some way to assuaging tensions after a divisive election campaign in which Trump harshly attacked Mexican immigrants as rapists and criminals, threatened a ban on Muslims and faced accusations of sexual harassment and assault from a series of women.
Born Nimrata Nikki Randhawa in 1972 in Bamberg, South Carolina, she served in the South Carolina House of Representatives from 2005-2011.
South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley at the Golden Temple in Amritsar. Picture: AFPSource:AFP
South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley is escorted down the steps of the Capitol by her husband Michael. Picture: APSource:AP
When she first ran, she was subjected to slurs from some within her Republican party.
As a child, Gov. Haley helped in her mother’s clothing shop and assisted with the bookkeeping. She went on to get a degree in accounting.
Popular among anti-tax “Tea Party” conservatives, Gov. Haley won an endorsement from former Alaska governor Sarah Palin and went on to win the South Carolina governorship in 2010.
She is currently the youngest governor in America and is the second of Indian descent, after Louisiana’s Bobby Jindal.
South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley (L) is the second governor of Indian descent, after Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal. Picture: AFPSource:AFP
Gov. Haley’s prestigious posting at the United Nations is sure to draw ire from opponents, given that she has virtually zero foreign policy experience.
She received congratulations from the UN ambassadors of close US allies Britain and Israel.
“She will bring to the UN a strong track record of achievement from South Carolina, and I know that the UK-US relationship will continue to go from strength to strength,” British Ambassador Matthew Rycroft told reporters.
American Ambassador to the U.N. Samantha Power speaks to new American citizens during a naturalisation ceremony at the Lower East Side Tenement Museum, Tuesday, Nov. 15, 2016, in New York. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)Source:AP
Israeli Ambassador Danny Danon hailed her as a “longstanding and true friend of Israel” who in South Carolina fought a pro-Palestinian movement to target Israel with boycotts, divestment and sanctions.
If confirmed, Gov. Haley would replace Samantha Power, who has served as the US ambassador to the UN since 2013.
Gov. Haley is married to Michael Haley, an officer in the South Carolina National Guard and has two children.