By Khalifa Hemed and UNWTO Wire
Published January 24, 2017
To stand a better chance of winning, Africa had by July 2016 chosen its candidate for the elective post of the Secretary-General of United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO), the specialised travel and tourism agency of the world body.
Dr Walter Mzembi, the Tourism Minister of Zimbabwe, had been endorsed by the Southern African Development Community (SADC) in March 2016 and the African Union (AU) in July 2016 to represent Africa during the elections scheduled for May 2017.
But now, four months to the election, a second African candidate has emerged to challenge Dr Mzembi. This is Alain St. Ange, former Minister of Tourism, Civil Aviation, Ports and Marine from Seychelles, a SADC partner state.
St.Ange resigned as the minister of his country on December 28, 2016 to concentrate on his UNWTO campaign.
Although there is no officially recognised system of regional rotation when it comes to filling the post of UNWTO Secretary-General, there has emerged a general sense of understanding that, given the right candidate, Africa – which has never held the top post before- could be well-placed to assume leadership of the Organisation.
An article just published in the London Evening News commenting on the surprise move of St. Ange says that should he receive the official endorsement of his government, he and his government would be openly breaking ranks with the 15-member SADC and 54-member AU, both of which have long endorsed a single candidate to carry Africa’s bid to win this coveted post.
Indications by several sources may paint a picture of other political forces outside Africa to encourage both African candidates to run for the UNWTO post.
Unless either African candidate enjoys enormous support outside the mother continent, it would be a tough fight for Africa as it attempts to beat three or four other candidates from outside the black continent.
Unlike Africa , Middle East, South America and Europe have already produced UNWTO Secretary General:
- Robert Lonati, France , 1975–1985
- Willibald Pahr, Austria, 1986–1989
- Antonio Enriquez Savignac, Mexico, 1990–1996
- Francesco Frangialli, France, 1997–2009, and
- Taleb Rifai, Jordan, 2010–Present.