Kamalesh Sharma's election to commonwealth a major victory

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Kampala, Nov 24 (UNI) India today achieved a major diplomatic victory when its candidate Kamalesh Sharma was elected as the next Secretary General of the Commonwealth.

Mr Sharma, India's High Commissioner to Britain, emerged consensus candidate after hectic consultations among the leaders of the Commonwealth, which succeeded in persuading Foreign Minister of Malta Michael Fendo to withdraw from the race.

Dr Mohan Kaul, Director General of the Commonwealth Business Council, did not find any support among the member countries.

Mr Sharma, who succeeds Don McKinnon of New Zealand, will take over on April 1, 2008. The Secretary General is the Chief Excutive Officer of the Commonwealth Secretariat, the main inter-governmental agency of the 53- member grouping.

His success came as a great relief for the Indian diplomats, who had worked vigorously for weeks to muster support for Mr Sharma.

His victory established the fact that India commands tremendous influence in the international community. After the defeat of Mr Shashi Tharoor, who contested as Secretary General of the United Nations, Indian diplomats did not take any chances and had worked overtime to ensure Mr Sharma's victory.

In fact Canada, New Zealand and some African countries were backing Mr Fendo, who was ultimately pursuaded to withdraw.

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