24 Sep 2021, 21:10

Kenya first African nation to back Tedros second term as WHO chief

    NAIROBI, Sept 24, 2021 (BSS/AFP) - Kenya on Friday became the first 
African nation to back Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus' bid for a second term as 
head of the World Health Organization (WHO).

   The 56-year-old Ethiopian was nominated by Germany on Wednesday in a move 
that surprised many observers, who had predicted that official support for 
his candidacy would come from African nations.

   But his candidacy became complicated after Ethiopia allegedly withdrew its 
support over the conflict in his home region of Tigray.

   Candidates for the UN health body's top slot are generally nominated by 
their home countries.

   On Friday, hours after the deadline for candidates passed, Kenya announced 
it would back the malaria specialist.

   "Kenya supports continuity of exemplary African leadership at helm of 
crucial global world health organization, and will work towards that 
realization," Macharia Kamau, principal secretary at the foreign ministry, 
said on Twitter.

   The first African to head the powerful UN agency, Tedros has been on the 
front line since the start of the Covid-19 crisis, making him one of the most 
familiar faces in the fight against the pandemic.

   The former health and foreign minister of Ethiopia drew the ire of the 
Addis Ababa government by using the WHO platform to condemn the crackdown in 

   At a news conference on Wednesday, when asked by AFP to confirm he was 
running for a second term, Tedros declined to answer.

   He appears to be the only candidate in the running, with other EU nations 
following Berlin's lead in backing him, diplomatic sources told AFP 

   Each country, among them Austria, France, Portugal and Spain, submitted a 
sealed envelope to the Geneva-based WHO before the deadline expired at 1600 
GMT on Thursday.

   The organisation will not open the envelopes before October 1. Then, a few 
weeks later, the list of candidates will be sent to the WHO's 194 member 
states, before being made public.

   If multiple candidates come forward, a selection process will start in 
January 2022 to establish a shortlist of up to five potential directors-

   Member states will vote for the next head of WHO -- whose term begins in 
August next year -- in a secret ballot in May during the global body's main 
annual meeting of member states. 

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