JOHANNESBURG – The head of the U.N. health agency has revoked his appointment of Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe as a “goodwill ambassador” after the choice drew widespread criticism.
World Health Organization director-general Tedros Ghebreyesus last week told a conference in Uruguay on non-communicable diseases that Mugabe had agreed to be a “goodwill ambassador” on the issue.
Tedros said in a statement Sunday that he had “reflected” over the past few days after flood of outrage and concern was voiced by international leaders and health experts on Mugabe’s appointment. “As a result I have decided to rescind the appointment,” he said in a statement.
He said he revoked Mugabe’s position in the best interests of the World Health Organization. Tedros also said he had consulted with the Zimbabwe government about his decision.
The 93-year-old Mugabe, the world’s oldest head of state, has long been criticized at home for going overseas for medical treatment as Zimbabwe’s once-prosperous economy falls apart and the country’s health care system deteriorates. Mugabe also faces U.S. sanctions over his government’s human rights abuses.