Togo executive to lead UN labor agency, 1st African in post

Members of the International Labor Organization’s body, voted Friday March 25, 2022 to select Gilbert Houngbo, pictured, as its next chief. He becomes the first African to ever lead the ILO. Photo: Courtesy International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD)

GENEVA (AP) — The governing body of the U.N.’s labor agency has picked a Togo executive to be the agency’s new leader and the first director-general from Africa.

Members of the International Labor Organization’s body, which brings together governments, workers and employers, voted Friday to select Gilbert Houngbo as its next chief.

Houngbo, the president of the International Fund for Agricultural Development, was chosen from among five candidates to replace outgoing Director-General Guy Ryder, who is completing his second five-year term.

Houngbo is set to take up the top job at the Geneva-based organization on Oct. 1.

Also in the running were Kang Kyung-wha, a former foreign minister of South Korea; Mthunzi Mdwaba of South Africa, a former employers’ vice-chairperson of the ILO governing body; former French Labor Minister Muriel Penicaud; and Greg Vines, an ILO deputy director-general from Australia.

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