UNITED NATIONS: Bahraini lawyer Shaikha Haya bint Rashid Al Khalifa, a former ambassador to France, was elected president of the UN General Assembly yesterday, the first woman to hold the post since 1969.
"My election to this position is an honour for my country, which witnesses real and comprehensive political and economic reforms," she told the 191-member Assembly.
Shaikha Haya will preside over the assembly's 61st session, which opens next September 12.
She succeeds Jan Eliasson, who is also Sweden's foreign minister.
She becomes only the third woman to hold the post after Vijaya Lakshmi Pandit of India in 1953 and Angie E Brooks of Liberia in 1969.
"I'm particularly pleased that we do have a woman president for the first time since 1969," UN chief Kofi Annan said.
"All member states are determined to work with her... and I think she is going to bring a new dimension to the work here."
In her address, Shaikha Haya stressed the need to map out "a comprehensive and practical strategy to combat one of the greatest evils of our time: terrorism."
But she said this also required tackling poverty, unemployment, illiteracy, extremisms in all its forms as well as highlighting "the importance of education in nurturing the next generation."
Her choice was approved by the assembly's Asian bloc, which under a regional rotation system, is tasked with choosing the next president, spokeswoman Pragato Pascale said.
Shaikha Haya, 53, was one of the first two women to practise law. She is currently legal adviser to the Royal Court in Bahrain.
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