Maldives Foreign Minister elected next UN General Assembly president

Maldives foreign minister Abdulla Shahid has been elected as the president of the 76th session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) that will start in September.

Abdulla Shahid received 143 votes during the election. The president of UNGA needs 97 votes in the 193-member strong assembly.

The post of president of UNGA is voted on a yearly basis by all the 193 members of the core UN body. The tenure of the president of UNGA lasts for one year and is considered prestigious due to the authority the person wields over the working of the General Assembly.

India had backed the candidature of foreign minister Abdulla with the announcement being first made during India’s foreign secretary Harsh Shringla’s Maldives visit in November and again during the visit of EAM Jaishankar’s visit to the Maldives in February, India reiterated its continued backing for Maldives FM’s candidature.

In an interview to WION in April, the Maldives FM had appreciated India’s backing. He told WION, “Maldives candidature and the support of the Indian government for the Maldives candidature is very much appreciated and it is a great honour for the country.”

In his vision statement titled “A Presidency of Hope: Delivering for People, Planet and Prosperity”, FM Shahid listed five priority themes – called “Five Rays of Hope”. The key areas were – recovering from COVID-19, rebuilding sustainably, responding to the needs of the planet, respecting the rights of all and revitalising the United Nations.

Abdulla Shahid in the vision statement called on, “efforts to make the United Nations efficient, effective and accountable” with the aim to “continue, together with efforts to reform the Security Council, revitalise the General Assembly and strengthen the economic and social council.”

“As a Maldivian, it is in my ethos to persevere—to both hope and work for a better tomorrow. Hope lets us stand up, dust ourselves off, and once again work on rebuilding this world. Hope is what can bring us together,” the Maldives foreign minister said.

The Maldives FM began his career in 1983 as a foreign service officer and has played prominent roles at the international stage as well as domestically in his country.

In accordance with the established regional rotation, the president of the seventy-sixth session of the General Assembly is to be elected from the group of Asia-Pacific states.

The other candidate for the UNGA president’s post was Afghanistan’s Dr Zalmai Rassoul. He has been the former foreign minister of Afghanistan and had initiated and led the launch of Heart of Asia Istanbul process in 2011 and expanded his country’s engagement in regional platforms like the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SEO).

Source: WION

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