Tedros awaits re-election to WHO as support grows – diplomats

Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director General, World Health Organization.

Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director General, World Health Organization.

  • Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has been nominated by more than 12 members of the European Union.
  • Ghebreyesus was elected WHO’s First African Director – General in May 2017.
  • He is a former Ethiopian Minister of Health and Foreign Affairs.

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus is ready to give strong support for a second term as head of the World Health Organization, formally nominated by more than 12 members of the European Union and also with the support of countries in other regions, diplomats said on Thursday.

Tedros, a former Ethiopian Minister of Health and Foreign Affairs, elected WHO’s First African Director-General in May 2017, has led the global fight against the Covid-19 pandemic.

He has steered the UN body through attacks on its handling of the crisis, which was triggered by a new coronavirus that emerged in China in late 2019 and has killed 4.9 million.

While the Trump administration accused Tedros of being “China-centric,” accusations he denied, relations with the Biden administration heated up, especially after Tedros publicly said further investigations were needed into the virus’ origins, including audits of China’s labs, diplomats said.

But he has been avoided by Ethiopia due to friction over the Tigray conflict, which made it necessary for other countries to step into the crime and leave his name for a second five-year term.

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“He is not unharmed, but in general the international community thinks it is really important to get behind him,” a senior diplomat from a non-EU country told Reuters.

German government sources made it clear to Reuters in Berlin on Wednesday that they would officially nominate Tedros and sought support from other EU member states.

A “significant” number of EU states have said they would also submit his name for nomination, said a Western diplomat, citing more than a dozen so far. “I understand that he is nominated by other regions,” he added.

African countries broadly support Tedros, who have fought for their access to vaccines but have refused to break with Ethiopia, diplomats said.

The United States has not opposed his new term, they add.

The deadline for nominating candidates for the politically charged race is 4 p.m., and no other candidate for the May election is known to have turned up, diplomats said.

According to the WHO process, envelopes must remain sealed until after 29 October, which means that it cannot be ruled out that a country may nominate another candidate. This is designed to limit campaigns too early.


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