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Home / News / World /  Maldivian minister Abdullah Shahid elected President of 76th UNGA

Maldivian foreign minister Abdullah Shahid was elected President of the 76th United Nations General Assembly (PGA) with an overwhelming majority.

He garnered 143 votes in favour with 48 against – that gave him victory by a three-fourths majority, two people familiar with the development said separately.

The post of the UN General Assembly President rotated annually among regional groupings. The 76th session (2021-22) is the turn of the Asia-Pacific group and this is the first time Maldives will be occupying the office of the PGA, said one of the two people mentioned above.

Shahid is seen as eminently qualified to hold the office of PGA given his “vast diplomatic experience and strong credentials, especially in the multilateral for a," said the second person cited above.

“Heartiest felicitations to Foreign Minister of Maldives

@abdulla_shahid on his election as President for 76th UN General Assembly," said Indian foreign minister S Jaishankar in a Twitter post.

“This is a testimony as much to his own stature as to the standing of Maldives. We look forward to working with him to strengthen multilateralism and its much needed reforms," the Indian minister said.

Maldives had announced Shahid’s candidature in December 2018 with no other candidate in the fray. “India announced its support for Shahid during the visit of Foreign Secretary to Maldives in November 2020. Even at that time, he was the only candidate in the fray," the second person cited above said.

However, in a suprising twist, in mid-January 2021, Afghan Foreign Minister Zalmai Rassoul thre his hat into the ring complicating the election. While Rassoul was seen as having strong credentials, by the time his candidature was announced, Maldives had already garnered extensive support. Another factor working in favour of Shaid was the fact that his country, the Maldives has never held the office of PGA. Afghanistan did once previously – during the 21st General Assembly session in 1966-67.

Both Maldives and Afghanistan have friendly ties with India. India’s vote however went to the Maldives since New Delhi had committed support to Shahid prior to Rassoul entering the fray, the first person cited above said.

The PGA’s office is the highest office in the UN System, and reflects the collective goodwill of the 193 Member States of the UN.

“India remains committed to supporting the office of the PGA, as it has consistently done in previous years," the first person cited above added.

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