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ABUJA, Nigeria (AP) _ Joseph Garba, a former Nigerian foreign minister and anti-apartheid campaigner who later became president of the U.N. General Assembly, has died. He was 59.

Garba chaired a U.N. committee dedicated to fighting South African white-minority rule in the 1980s before leading the General Assembly beginning in 1989. He died Saturday in Nigeria's capital, Abuja, after a brief illness.

Born in Langtang, Garba spent nearly two decades in Nigeria's military before serving as minister of foreign affairs under consecutive military regimes led by Murtala Mohammed and Olusegun Obasanjo.

Garba then became Nigeria's permanent representative to the United Nations and served as General Assembly president for a year.

In the 1990s, Garba became a political analyst and moved back to Nigeria.

U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan called Garba ``a leading figure'' in Nigeria's campaign against apartheid. Obasanjo, a close friend of Garba who became Nigeria's elected president in 1999, also expressed grief.

Garba is survived by his wife, a son and five daughters.