Taleb Rifai re-elected as UNWTO Secretary General


LIVINGSTONE, Zambia (eTN) – Taleb Rifai was the lone candidate for the position of the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) Secretary General, and by the organization’s rules and regulations (Article 43), he gets to retain the position he has occupied for the last four years.

There are two ways to elect a new Secretary General, says Zambia Tourism Minister Sylvia Masebo. According to her, UNWTO members have the option to elect its secretary through “acclamation” or through “secret ballot.” Since Dr. Rifai was the only candidate for the job, he was voted by default to serve another four years as the organization’s head.

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For his part, UNWTO Secretary General said he had “reservations about running again.” That reservation was, however, dismissed as he had recognized his “destiny,” which he himself had admitted as being “closely connected to Africa.” He said, “I was first chosen as Deputy Secretary General in Senegal. I was first elected as the Secretary General in Mali. Now I am blessed to be re-elected in Zambia-Zimbabwe.”

Dr. Rifai said his job isn’t easy. The role of being both a reformer and consensus-builder can be polar opposites, but for him these “two things can go both-in-hand and should go hand-in-hand.” He said, “We cannot live in a world that is static; everything changes. Reform is not just a character or a passion. We have no option but to keep reforming and keep changing.”

Dr. Rifai thanked whom he referred to as his three tiers of family–his wife, his staff in Madrid, and UNWTO members.

On that note, Dr. Rifai is firm in his disposition that he not only welcomes scrutiny, but rather encourages it.