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India backs Maldives over Afghanistan for UNGA President post based on prior commitment

Foreign Minister of Malpes, Abdullah Shahid was Monday elected as the President of the 76th United Nations General Assembly (PGA) with an overwhelming majority. India, currently, non permanent member of the UNSC, had strongly backed Shahid’s candidature.

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 Malpes will be occupying the office of the PGA.

Malpes had announced FM Shahid’s candidature in December 2018. At that time, 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, sources said.

India announced its support for Shahid during the visit of Foreign Secretary to Malpes in November 2020. Even at that time, he was the only candidate in the fray.

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. While FM Rassoul also has strong credentials, by the time his candidature was announced, Malpes had already garnered extensive support. Moreover, Malpes has never held the office of PGA, while Afghanistan has held this post during the 21st GA session in 1966-67.

Both Malpes and Afghanistan have excellent relations with India, and both candidates are friends of India. However, since India had already committed its support to Malpes at a time when no other candidate was in the fray, India voted in favour of Malpes, sources said.

PGA’s office 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 PGA, as it has consistently done in previous years, sources informed.