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The Latest: WHO chief ‘rethinking’ Mugabe ambassador post

GENEVA (AP) – The Latest on Zimbabwe’s leader as “goodwill ambassador” for the World Health Organization (all times local):

7:40 p.m.

The head of the World Health Organization says he is “rethinking” his appointment of Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe as a “goodwill ambassador.”

In a new tweet, Tedros Ghebreyesus says that “I’m listening. I hear your concerns. Rethinking the approach in light of WHO values. I will issue a statement as soon as possible.”

The appointment of Mugabe has been met with widespread shock and condemnation, including from the United States, which sanctioned him more than a decade ago over his government’s human rights abuses.

The 93-year-old Mugabe has been criticized at home for going abroad for medical treatment as his once-prosperous country’s economy suffers.


5 p.m.

The United States has joined in condemning the choice of Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe as a “goodwill ambassador” for the World Health Organization.

The world’s oldest head of state has long faced U.S. sanctions over his government’s human rights abuses, as well as criticism at home for going overseas for medical treatment.

The State Department says that “this appointment clearly contradicts the United Nations ideals of respect for human rights and human dignity.”

The WHO’s new leader, the first from Africa, announced the appointment of Mugabe earlier this week.


11:40 a.m.

Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe has long faced United States sanctions over his government’s human rights abuses. But the World Health Organization’s new chief is making the longtime African leader a “goodwill ambassador.”

With Mugabe on hand, WHO director-general Tedros Ghebreyesus announced the appointment at a conference in Uruguay this week on non-communicable diseases. Dozens of health groups have reacted with shock.

Tedros, an Ethiopian who became WHO’s first African director-general this year, said Mugabe could use the role “to influence his peers in his region” on the issue. A WHO spokeswoman confirmed the comments to The Associated Press on Friday.

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