UN General Assembly elects Foreign Minister of Maldives as President

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The UN General Assembly, on Monday voted to elect the Foreign Minister of the Maldives, Abdallah Shahid, as President of the 76th session.

In what was a contested election, featuring former Afghan Foreign Minister Zalmai Rassoul, Shahid garnered 143 votes while Rassoul got 48 votes.

On May 6, President of the UN General Assembly Volkan Bozkir had convened informal interactive dialogues in the General Assembly Hall – as mandated by resolution 71/323 – in which the candidates responded to the questions submitted earlier by civil society and other representatives.

“I wholeheartedly congratulate Honourable Abdulla Shahid on his election as the next President of the UN General Assembly,” said the incumbent President, reminding that the President-elect had been “a strong voice” for the small island developing states.

The outgoing President also recognised “the strong candidacy” of Zalmai Rassoul, saying that his extensive experience in multilateral diplomacy and comprehensive vision had earned the respect of member states.

“At this important time in his country’s history, the international community’s support for Afghanistan’s long journey toward democracy is as essential as ever,” he said.

UN Secretary-General António Guterres, welcomed the election of Abdulla Shahid, Foreign Minister of the Maldives, as President-elect of the 76th session of the General Assembly.

Guterres said Shahid’s longstanding diplomatic experience, including in his current role as Minister of Foreign Affairs had given him a deep understanding of the importance of multilateralism in addressing today’s global challenges.

The UN chief commended the President-elect for his “selection of hope as the central theme in his vision statement”.

He noted that coming from a small island developing state, Shahid would bring unique insights to the assembly as the world prepares for the UN climate conference, COP26, in Glasgow in November.

“I also want to express my deep appreciation to His Excellency Dr. Zalmai Rassoul and thank him for contributing to this dynamic process,” the UN chief said.

The top UN official also expressed his “deep appreciation” to Bozkir for his “exceptional leadership” as Assembly President during the 75th anniversary session.

“As our most representative organ, the General Assembly is the foundation of all our work at the UN, and essential to our effectiveness as an organisation. In 2021, the world needs that effectiveness more than ever,” he said.

The UN chief added that millions of people were mourning the losses of loved ones to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic in a crisis that has “dealt a body blow to communities, societies, and economies. Until everyone, everywhere has access to vaccines, it continues to pose an enormous threat,” he stressed.

The 76th Assembly will “grapple with the impact of the pandemic across the three pillars of our work: peace, sustainable development, and human rights,” said Guterres, wishing Shahid “every success in his task”.

The UN chief assured the President-elect of his support and that of the entire Secretariat in reaching shared goals and upholding universal values.

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