Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe has been removed as a goodwill ambassador for the World Health Organization (WHO) after Western donors and rights groups expressed outrage at his appointment, Reuters reports.
Last Wednesday, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus named Mugabe to the largely ceremonial post of a goodwill ambassador for the agency.
During a meeting in Uruguay on chronic diseases, Tedros praised Zimbabwe as “a country that places universal health coverage and health promotion at the center of its policies” and announced the appointment of the Zimbabwean president as goodwill ambassador.
The appointment drew protests from several countries, including Britain and the United States.
Britain had said Mugabe’s appointment as a goodwill ambassador was “surprising and disappointing” and that it risked overshadowing the WHO’s global work.
Mugabe, 93, is blamed in the West for destroying Zimbabwe’s economy and for numerous human rights abuses during his 37 years leading the country as either president or prime minister.
Tedros said in a statement on Sunday that he has listened to those expressing concerns and heard the “different issues” raised.
“Over the last few days, I have reflected on my appointment of H.E. President Robert Mugabe as WHO Goodwill Ambassador for NCDs (non-communicable diseases) in Africa. As a result I have decided to rescind the appointment,” the WHO chief said.
The decision had been taken after consultation with the Harare government and was “in the best interests of the World Health Organization”, Tedros said, according to Reuters.
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