FAO echoes Moscow war line as DG campaigns for 2nd term

An FAO guard plays trumpet at December Employee recognition ceremony. PHOTO CREDIT: ©FAO/Giuseppe Carotenuto

 ROME -- As FAO Director General Qu Dongyu has started campaigning for re-election next year, a circle of Western ambassadors have been meeting to discuss if there could be a viable alternative candidate to challenge the Chinese Communist agronomist, diplomatic sources say.

 Mr Qu has been seeking pledges of votes while travelling to regional conferences such as one in Balgadesh and during trips to the Maldives and remote island states that often play a major part in the outcome of elections for UN specialized agencies, the sources said.
 A lengthy statement by Mr Qu Friday on the impact of the Russian Ukraine war on global food supplies stopped short of terming the conflict a war or invasion or mentioning the March 2 UN general assembly's condemnation of Russia's aggression against a sovereign country. This followed a craven FAO press communique March 4 referring to the invasion as just a 'military operation,' echoing the official Russian line.
 While angered by what is seen as currying favour with Russia, the Western envoys concluded in their discussions that a tidal wave of weak developing countries, even if many are crushed by a mountain of debt to China, will vote for Mr Qu and therefore it would be pointless to look for alternatives. Indeed in recent decades all DGs have been allowed to enjoy at least one second term.
 The strength of an incumbent DG to defend his position with promises to key member states was underlined as long ago as 1999 by the valiant but unsuccessful bid by respected Argentinian diplomat Jaun Carlos Vignaud to oust Senegalese kingpin Jacques Diouf.
  Western ambassadors feel that the only effective way of reforming FAO would be through a dramatic reduction in Western extra-budgetary financing and reliance on other agencies and organizations. Competing search for funding will certainly lead to this. 
  Meanwhile many FAO officials are concerned at the profusion of slogans at FAO that recall Chinese Communist party campaigns, notably the aspirational "four betters: better production, better nutrition, better environment, better life."
  Also considered bizarre by many staffers was the deployment of an FAO guard playing a trumpet at the annual employee recognition awards ceremony.
FAO DG in the Maldives last week. Photo credit: Maldives FIsheries Ministry