|  |  | 

India Top Headlines

Maldivian Foreign Minister elected president of the UN assembly | India News


NEW DELHI: Maldives Foreign Minister Abdulla Shahid will be the new president of the UN General Assembly for the 76th session, winning the elections with more than three-quarters of the votes. After the votes were counted, 143 voted in favor of Shahid, 48 against and zero abstentions.
But behind the scenes, an intense diplomatic battle has raged between India and China over the past six months.
Maldives submitted its candidacy for the post of President in December 2018, appointing Abdulla Shahid, Minister of Foreign Affairs. At that time there were no other candidates. The Maldives has never taken on any of the big jobs at the UN before, so supporting them was the right thing to do. India supported Shahid with its diplomatic clout, lobbying for him in world capitals. In November 2020, Foreign Secretary Harsh Shringla visited Male and went public with the support of India. Former US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had also voiced his support for Shahid.
However, in January 2021, former Afghan Foreign Minister Zalmai Rassoul suddenly threw his hat into the ring and became the rival candidate, opening the process. Now Rassoul and Afghanistan are as close to India as the Maldives, so it seemed like a dilemma for New Delhi.
But the biggest question UN diplomats were asking at the time was, why did Rassoul enter the contest? It turned out that China and Pakistan played an important role in supporting Rassoul against Shahid, albeit informally. However, recent months have witnessed a vigorous negative campaign by both countries against Shahid.
For China, Maldives under Ibrahim Solih is not as friendly as it was during the Yameen years. This was a good way to oppose Shahid’s candidacy.
Second, it was intended to put India in a quandary. Third, knowing that India had already supported Shahid’s candidacy, the decision to put Rassoul there would also be an indication to Kabul that New Delhi would not always support them.
Despite the strong result, the election was the result of an intense campaign. The position of president of the UNGA for the 76th session is important in the universe of the UN. The president directs the general affairs of the UNGA. More importantly, the entire UN Security Council reform process and negotiations are carried out by committees appointed by the president of the UNGA.
Official sources said: “While FM Rassoul also has strong credentials, when his candidacy was announced, the Maldives had already garnered broad support. Furthermore, Maldives never held the position of PGA, while Afghanistan held this position during the 21st session of the GA in 1966-67 ”.

Reference page