New Delhi: President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih has welcomed the presidency of his country at the United Nations General Assembly and during the Independence day speech said that it elevates “our leverage on the international stage.” Maldives Foreign minister Abdulla Shahid has been elected as the President of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) for its 76th session.
He explained, “Our policies to preserve the independence of the Maldives and sustaining diplomatic relations while honoring the independence of other nations played an instrumental role in the recent election” to UNGA. Shahid got a whopping 143 votes in the 193 strong body. The tenure of the post is one year and is a prestigious one due to authority over the working of the General Assembly.
India was the first country to extend support to Maldives’ candidature. The announcement was first made during Foreign Secretary Harsh Shringla’s Maldives visit in November. Again during the visit of EAM Jaishankar’s visit to the Maldives in February of 2021, India reiterated its continued backing for his candidature.
During his independence day address, President Solih said, “Maintaining harmonious ties with foreign countries is crucial to preserving our independence.”. Ibrahim Nasir Rannabandeyri Kilegefaan played a key role in the independence of the country which was a protectorate of the British Empire. During the speech, President Solih also paid tributes to “heroes who liberated our nation from the Portuguese rule” which are Sultan Al-Ghaazee Mohamed Thakurufaanul Auzam and his companions.
On Covid crisis, the president said, “Our current situation calls upon us to unite our nation and offer our full support” and that the “Government requires the help and cooperation of all citizens in our efforts to protect Maldivians from the Covid-19 pandemic”. Next week the Solih administration begins a program to vaccinate everyone residing in the Maldives. He said, “The Government’s foremost aim is to complete the vaccination of 90 percent of the eligible population by August, and from there, complete vaccination of all Maldivians.”.
The Maldives, along with Bhutan were the first two countries India sent vaccines to. Both countries got the vaccines within 48 hours of India beginning its mega vaccination programme.
He highlighted, “In light of our efforts against the Covid-19 pandemic in the past year and a half, we must now focus on getting on with our daily routines with precautionary measures in place. We must at the same time work wisely to boost our national economy.”
Maldives tourism-led economy was impacted by the pandemic as globally international travel came to a grinding halt. An uptick is expected as more tourists, especially from India head towards the country known for its famous picturesque sunsets and shores.