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Foreign Minister of Maldives elected next General Assembly President

  • Posted By
    10Pointer
  • Categories
    World Affairs
  • Published
    9th Jun, 2021

Context

Maldives Foreign Minister Abdullah Shahid was elected president of the 76th UNGA with an overwhelming majority by receiving 143 votes out of 191 ballots cast, while Afghanistan’s former Foreign minister Zalmai Rassoul got 48 votes.

Election

  • The President of the United Nations General Assembly ‘s (PGA) office is the highest office in the UN System, and reflects the collective goodwill of 193 UN member-states.
  • The election to the UNGA presidential post is held on an annual basis, rotated amongst various regional groupings.
  • The 76th UNGA session (2021-22) was the turn of the Asia-Pacific group.
  • This is the first time the Maldives will be occupying the office of the President of the UNGA, while Afghanistan held the post during the 21st GA session in 1966-67.

India's support to Abdulla Shahid

  • While Afghanistan was the first to announce participation, the Maldives was the first to declare its candidate's name in December 2018.
  • Kabul announced the name of Zalmai Rassoul in January 2021.
  • By then, India, like many other countries, had already pledged support to the Maldives.
  • India announced its support for Abdulla during the visit of Foreign Secretary Harsh Shringla to the Maldives in November 2020.

5 Priority areas for Abdulla Shahid

  • Covid response
  • Vaccine equity
  • Environment
  • Human rights
  • Gender equality

Indian dilemma

  • Both Maldives and Afghanistan have excellent relations with India, and both candidates are friends of India.
  • However, 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 the Maldives.
  • While the Maldives received major support from across the globe, Afghanistan was supported by China and the announcement of the candidature came to ensure the Maldives does not stand unopposed.