Seychelles withdraws candidate from UNWTO race

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The Seychelles government has withdrawn its candidate Alain St Ange from elections to choose the next secretary-general of the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) in Madrid, Spain, on Friday following representations from the African Union (AU).

This paves way for Zimbabwe’s Minister of Tourism and Hospitality Industry Walter Mzembi to be Africa’s sole candidate in the race which will pit him with candidates from Brazil, Colombia, Republic of Korea and Georgia.

The winning candidate has to poll a two-thirds majority to take over from Jordanian Taleb Rifai who completes his second four-year term at the end of the year.
Seychelles had been criticized for nominating St Ange for the post after the AU had already endorsed Mzembi as Africa’s sole candidate.

Zimbabwean news agency New Ziana on Wednesday quoted a statement from the Seychelles government saying that President Danny Faure chaired an Extra-Ordinary Cabinet meeting recently where the Cabinet considered a formal request from the AU Commission for Seychelles to withdraw St Ange’s candidature.

“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,” the statement said.

However, the news agency reported that St Ange had been quoted blaming the AU for exerting undue pressure on his government, resulting in his withdrawal.

“Africa is today losing because of the decisions taken by the African Union with a list of measures that will be imposed on Seychelles, which people are saying can be considered as blackmail, knowing full well that Zimbabwe cannot take it (win the election),” he said.

St Ange is the second candidate to withdraw from the race after Vahan Martirosyan of Armenia in April.

The UNWTO, a specialized arm of the United Nations, has 157 member countries, six territories and over 500 affiliate members.

Mzembi has been campaigning for the elections abroad with some Zimbabwean ambassadors in Europe coming together in Madrid to strategize his victory.

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