New Delhi: Foreign Minister of Maldives, Abdullah Shahid, has been elected as the President of the 76th United Nations General Assembly with an overwhelming majority.
This is a post held on an annual basis, rotated amongst various regional groupings.
The 76th session (2021-22) is the turn of the Asia-Pacific group. This is the first time the Maldives will be occupying the high office. Afghanistan was also eyeing the post.
"Heartiest felicitations to Foreign Minister of Maldives Abdullah Shahid on his election as President for 76th UN General Assembly," tweeted External Affairs Minister Dr S Jaishankar.
"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," he further wrote.
"A friend of India on @UN pedestal. Congratulations to Foreign Minister Abdullah Shahid of Maldives on his election as President of 76th UN General Assembly," tweeted Syed Akbaruddin, former diplomat who also served as India's Permanent Representative at the UN.
Meanwhile, sources said here that while Maldives had announced FM Shahid’s candidature in December 2018 India announced its support for Mr Shahid during the visit of Foreign Secretary Harsh V Shringla to Maldives in November 2020.
In mid-January 2021, in a surprising development and with less than 6 months before the elections, Afghan Foreign Minister Zalmai Rassoul entered the fray.
Maldives has never held the office of PGA, while Afghanistan has held this post during the 21st session in 1966-67.
"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 Maldives at a time when no other candidate was in the fray, India voted in favour of Maldives," sources told this scribe.
The office of the President of the general assembly 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 President of the General Assembly as it has consistently done in previous years, sources said.