Male [Maldives]: The Maldives on Monday won the election to the post of the President of the 76th Session of the United Nations General Assembly (PGA), during the elections held at the UN headquarters in New York.
According to a statement from Maldives' foreign ministry, the country's Minister of Foreign Affairs Abdulla Shahid won the election with 143 votes, out of a total of 191 votes cast. This is the first time Maldives will be occupying the office of the PGA. The Maldives had announced Shahid's candidature in December 2018 for the Asia-Pacific Group's turn for the session that would commence on September 14, when no other candidate was in the fray.
Shahid is eminently qualified to hold the office of PGA, with vast diplomatic experience and strong credentials, especially in the multilateral fora, said sources.
India announced its support for Shahid during the visit of Foreign Secretary Harsh Shringla to the Maldives in November 2020. Even at that time, he was the only candidate in the fray, according to sources.
The External Affairs Minister of India, S Jaishankar also conveyed his felicitations to Shahid on this accomplishment.
"Heartiest felicitations to Foreign Minister of Maldives @abdulla_shahid on his election as President for 76th UN General Assembly," he said.
"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 minister added.
In mid-January 2021, in a surprising development and with less than six months before the elections, Afghan Foreign Minister Zalmai Rassoul entered the fray.
According to sources, while Rassoul also had strong credentials, by the time his candidature was announced, Maldives had already garnered extensive support. Moreover, Maldives has never held the office of PGA, while Afghanistan has held this post during the 21st GA session in 1966-67.
Since India had already committed its support to the Maldives at a time when no other candidate was in the fray, India voted in favour of Maldives.
In February, Jaishankar stated that the Maldivian Foreign Minister is "best equipped" to be the President of the 76th session of the UN General Assembly.
"I reiterate today India's strong support to the candidature of Foreign Minster Abdulla Shahid for President of the 76th session of the UN General Assembly next year. Foreign Minister Shahid, with his vast diplomatic experience and his leadership qualities, is, in our view, the best equipped to preside over the General Assembly of 193 nations of the world," Jaishankar said at the Joint Conference with Minister of Foreign Affairs.
India remains committed to supporting the office of the PGA, as it has consistently done in previous years, said sources.
Meanwhile, taking to Twitter, Maldives President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih congratulated Shahid for winning the presidency of the 76th UNGA, adding that it was a great honour for the Maldives.
"Warm congratulations to Foreign Minister @abdulla_shahid for winning the election for the Presidency of the 76th UN General Assembly by a resounding margin of 143 votes. This is a great honour for Maldives and I have no doubt Min. Shahid will do us all proud as UNGA President," he tweeted.
This is the first time the Maldives has presented a candidate for the Presidency of the General Assembly. The country had joined the UN in September 1965 and has since been an active member.