HomeBusinessSeychelles backs Mzembi for UNWTO post

Seychelles backs Mzembi for UNWTO post


TOURISM and Hospitality Industry minister Walter Mzembi received a major boost on Tuesday after Seychelles withdrew its candidature of Alain St Ange for the UN World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) secretary-general post ahead of Friday’s polls.


Walter Mzembi
Walter Mzembi

The battle to replace Jordanian Talef Rifai now pits Mzembi against four other candidates — Márcio Favilla (Brazil), Jaime Alberto Cabal Sanclemente (Colombia), Zurab Pololikashvili (Georgia) and Young-shim Dho (South Korea) for the right to lead the organisation from 2018 to 2021.

St Ange has been under pressure to withdraw his candidature after Seychelles went against the African Union (AU) resolution to field a single candidate to enhance chances of landing the post. Seychelles had supported Mzembi’s candidature at the Sadc and AU level and St Ange’s entry into the race, six months after the continental bloc had endorsed the Tourism minister, had irked other African countries.

In a statement on Tuesday, Seychelles said it was withdrawing its support for St Ange and instead support the AU-endorsed candidate.

“Having considered the stance taken by Seychelles at the Southern African Development Community meeting in March 2016, and at the African Union meeting of July 2016, where member states, including Seychelles, had unanimously voted to support the Zimbabwean candidate, Cabinet members formally reviewed its decision to support the candidature of St Ange,” it said, adding the move was in line with established practices governing the endorsement process for candidatures within the international system under the AU and Sadc frameworks.

“. . . in light of our standing responsibilities and commitments within the context of the African Union, the Seychelles government has decided to withdraw the candidature of St Ange for the position of secretary general.

Seychelles will stand in solidarity with the African Union and support the African Union’s officially endorsed candidate from Zimbabwe in the upcoming election.”

The withdrawal of St Ange from the race is a major boost for Mzembi who has also received the backing of the African, Caribbean, and Pacific Group of States (ACP).

At its 105th session of the ACP council of ministers meeting held in Brussels last week, the bloc urged member countries to support the candidature of Mzembi and Ethiopian Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus as the official AU candidates. Ghebreyesus is the AU-endorsed candidate for the post of director general of the World Health Organisation (WHO). The council of ministers mandated the secretary general to “convey this resolution to the UNWTO and WHO executive members urging them to repose their confidence and support these candidatures”.

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