UNWTO Secretary General appointment set to be legally challenged in Chengdu – China

Dr Taleb Rifai (Centre) the outgoing UNWTO Secretary General. Did he predetermine who succeeds him?
Dr Taleb Rifai (Centre) the outgoing UNWTO Secretary General during a meeting held in Madrid on 12th May to choose his successor. Did he predetermine who succeeds him?

By Henry D Gombya

Disquiet is growing among member states of the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) about the way in which a new Secretary General was elected just over a fortnight ago in the Spanish capital Madrid. Impeccable sources within the UNWTO who have spoken to us on condition they were not named say that members are seriously considering going to court to challenge the appointment of      Georgia’s ambassador to Spain, Zurab Pololikashvili who polled 18 votes against Africa’s preferred candidate Dr Walter Mzembi who polled 15 in the last and final vote held on the 12th of May at the Melia Castilla Hotel in Madrid.

Pololikashvili is a Permanent Representative of Georgia to the UNWTO and Ambassador extraordinary and plenipotentiary of Georgia to Spain, Algeria and Morocco. Investigations we have carried out into the UNWTO’s elections may indeed shock the world’s tourism organisation. According to our impeccable sources, we can now reveal that the appointment of the Georgian had been secretly agreed by the outgoing Secretary General Taleb Rifai who has been in the post for the last 10 years and has been working hand in hand with Ambassador Pololikashvili in Madrid. Suspicions started spreading around the UNWTO’s headquarters in Madrid when Alain St Ange, Seychelles former Minister of Tourism and Culture was allowed unprecedented time to address the UNWTO Executive Committee shortly before the vote was held in Madrid after he had been forced to reluctantly withdraw his candidature by his country and urged to support the African Union (AU) choice, Dr Walter Mzembi.

The AU has one of the largest blocs in the UNWTO with 10 of the 33 members sitting on the UNWTO Executive Council. In the elections held in Madrid, Spain, where strangely The London Evening Post was denied entry into the hall but which we nevertheless covered from the hotel lobby, Dr Mzembi stood against three other candidates in addition to Ambassador Pololikashvili. These were Márcio Favilla (Brazil), Jaime Alberto Cabal Sanclemente (Colombia),) and Young-shim Dho (South Korea). Each candidate was allowed a 10-minute presentation to show how they would use the post to advance tourism around the globe. Surprisingly, St Ange, who was at this time no longer a candidate, was given a platform to address the Executive Council for nearly 30 minutes during which he tried to to explain how he would have taken the UNWTO forward had he been a candidate.

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