Attacking Dr. Rifai’s UNWTO legacy only the latest faux pas in a campaign losing its lustre


(Posted 02nd March 2017)

An already emotionally charged campaign for the office of Secretary General of UNWTO has now taken yet another turn to the worse when the legacy of outgoing SG Dr. Taleb Rifai was attacked by comments recently reaching the public domain to the effect that ‘surrender the UNWTO Secretary-Generalship to yet another bureaucratic succession will be to condemn the Organisation to further peripheralization and irrelevance within the global system‘.
To describe Dr. Taleb Rifai, well known to this correspondent, as a bureaucrat is a baseless allegation aimed to belittle his work and the work of his administration, in particular given his extraordinary efforts to give the African continent greater visibility, support and say within the UNWTO framework.
Dozens of regular commentators for ATC News East Africa and hundreds of readers have sent in comments and mails, asking for the rationale of one candidate to bring the word racism in to the campaign, something most felt was inappropriate for a candidate running for such high office and a disservice and discredit to Africa. Most questions also demanded to know the position of the candidate versus global groups like LGBT among other minority groups, something which cannot be answered here even though certain countries in Africa have for long been on record over their official opposition to some of those groups and have various draconian laws on their statute books.
When the Seychelles candidate for the post of Secretary General was contacted by the members of the global press on the negativity surrounding the coming elections where he himself was targeted by racist attacks, the former Seychelles Minister for Tourism, Civil Aviation, Ports and Marine Alain St. Ange simply said that he was concentrating on telling the world of tourism what he would do if elected Secretary General. He reiterated what he said in an interview with this correspondent recently in Kampala where he went on record: ‘We do not speak about other candidates. The UN is a democratic body and we need to respect the rights of countries to be candidates. It is the world of tourism which needs to decide who they will elect. On the work by Dr. Taleb Rifai, the outgoing Secretary General of the UNWTO the Seychelles Candidate, every Member State has recognised the good work done by Taleb and it is sad for anyone to try to belittle his achievements‘. Watch again his key note address given at the Ugandan POATE2017 Tourism Expo and the launch of the East Africa Tourism Platform’s ‘Destination East Africa Web Portal‘ and his direct interview with this correspondent just minutes before his departure from Uganda.