The World Health Organization (WHO) said on Friday that its current director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus is the only candidate nominated for the U.N. agency’s elections in May.
“WHO can announce that a single candidate was proposed by Member States by the 23 September 2021 deadline: Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, who is the incumbent Director-General,” the WHO said in a statement.
Earlier on Friday, Reuters reported that Tedros was the only nominated candidate, citing Western diplomats.
Ethiopia declined to nominate Tedros for a second term due to friction over the Tigray conflict, making it necessary for other countries to step in and do so.
The 28 states include France, Germany and other European Union members, as well as three African countries – Botswana, Kenya and Rwanda – the diplomats told Reuters. The United States was not among them.
The issue is so sensitive that the African Union has not even discussed the appointment, including at its latest summit this month, African diplomats said.
The WHO will hold the election during the annual meeting of its health ministers next May. The nominations were kept secret to limit early campaigning.
Tedros, a former health and foreign minister of Ethiopia, was the first African elected WHO director-general in May 2017. He has led the global response to COVID-19, the worst public health crisis in a century, which broke out in the central Chinese city of Wuhan in late 2019 and has killed 5.2 million people.
The United States, under former President Donald Trump, accused him of being “China-centric”, a charge he denies. Relations have warmed since Joe Biden’s administration took office in January.
But he annoyed China with public calls in July for it to share Wuhan lab audits and provide more data on early COVID-19 cases. WHO investigators have yet to regain access to the country to probe the origins of coronavirus.
Photo – World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus . EPA-EFE/FABRICE COFFRINI