Germany and France say they and other European Union countries have nominated Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus for a second term as director-general of the World Health Organisation.
It is the first time a candidate for the top job at the UN health agency has not been nominated by the home country.
The Ethiopian, who goes by his first name, has been in the global spotlight over the organisation’s response to the coronavirus pandemic over the last 19 months – a crisis that eclipsed all else throughout his term that began in 2017.
The election for the next WHO director-general, which carries a five-year term, takes place at the agency’s next annual assembly meeting in May.
Mr Tedros has angered the Ethiopian government of Nobel Peace Prize-winning Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed for speaking out about killings and other human rights abuses in his home region of Tigray.
He was formerly a senior official in the Tigray People’s Liberation Front, once a dominant member of a coalition running Ethiopia but now designated by the national government as a terrorist group.
Mr Tedros also served as health and foreign minister in the previous Ethiopian government.
The diplomatic missions of France and Germany to UN institutions in Geneva announced their support for Mr Tedros on their Twitter feeds after a deadline for candidacies for the director-general post expired on Thursday.
On its web site, the WHO said it does not plan to announce the full list of candidates until November, but some diplomatic officials have suggested he may not have any competition.
An official in Geneva said 15 other EU members joined in nominating Mr Tedros.
The WHO came was criticised by the US Trump administration last year over allegations of grievous missteps in responding to Covid-19 and of an over-willingness to praise China in the early phases of the outbreak that first emerged in Wuhan.