Germany and France said they and other EU countries have nominated Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus of Ethiopia for a second term as director-general of the WHO.
This marks the first time that a candidate for the top job at the UN health agency has not been nominated by their home country.
Tedros has been in the global spotlight over the organization’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic over the past 19 months — an epochal crisis that eclipsed all else throughout his term, which began in 2017.
The election for the next WHO director-general, which carries a five-year term, takes place at the agency’s next annual assembly meeting in May next year.
Tedros has run afoul of the Ethiopian government of Nobel Peace Prize-winning Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed over his outspokenness about killings and other human rights abuses in his home region of Tigray.
Tedros was formerly a top official in the Tigray People’s Liberation Front, once a dominant member of a coalition running Ethiopia, but now designated by the national government as a terrorist group.
Tedros also served as health and foreign minister in the previous Ethiopian government.
The diplomatic missions of France and Germany to UN institutions in Geneva, Switzerland, announced their support for Tedros on their Twitter feeds after a deadline for candidacies for the director-general post expired on Thursday.
On its Web site, the WHO has said it does not plan to announce the full list of candidates until November, but some diplomatic officials have suggested that he might not have any competition.
A diplomatic official in Geneva, speaking on condition of anonymity, said 15 other EU members joined in nominating Tedros.
Macharia Kamau, principal secretary for the foreign affairs ministry in Ethiopia’s neighbor Kenya, said on Twitter that his country backs Tedros — the first African to head the WHO.
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