Updated January 15th, 2022 at 11:54 IST

Ethiopia withdraws support for WHO's Chief Tedros over alleged support to TPLF

“He [WHO’s Dr. Tedros] has not lived up to the integrity and professional expectations required from his office and position,” the letter sent to WHO Board read

Reported by: Zaini Majeed
IMAGE: AP | Image:self

Ethiopia on January 14 directed angst at WHO and said that it will not support the re-election of its national Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus for a second term as director-general of the World Health Organization (WHO) for supporting the proscribed Tigray People's Liberation Front (TPLF) and Tigrayan rebels forces. In a letter to the WHO Executive Board, Ethiopia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs noted that Dr. Tedros, a former foreign minister of Ethiopia, “threatens the organisational integrity of the WHO because he has taken sides with a proscribed group in his native country,” The East African news agency that obtained the letter reported. 

“He [WHO’s Dr. Tedros] has not lived up to the integrity and professional expectations required from his office and position,” the letter sent to the Board read. “He has been interfering with the internal affairs of Ethiopia, including Ethiopia’s relations with the state of Eritrea continues as an active member and supporter of the TPLF that is proscribed as a terrorist group by the Ethiopian parliament,” it added. 

“Through his acts, (Tedros) spread harmful misinformation and compromised WHO's reputation, independence and credibility,” Ethiopia's ministry of foreign affairs' letter read. 

Tedros violated 'professional and legal responsibility'

WHO is currently chaired by Dr. Patrick Amoth, Director-General for Health, Ministry of Health of Kenya, and a Kenyan Obstetrician and Gynaecologist. He has been appointed to the World Health Organisation (WHO) Executive Board for a period of one year. He took over at the 149th session of the WHO Executive Board on June 02, 2021, by the outgoing Chair India’s Dr. Harsh Vardhan. On Friday, Ethiopia urged the WHO Executive Board, the 34-member body of the WHO, to investigate Dr. Tedros’ conduct for violating his “professional and legal responsibility” at the 150th session of the Board when it will review Dr. Tedros’ performance for his second term as director-general. 

Ethiopia had nominated Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus to be the head of the UN health agency nearly four years ago, but it now says that he has failed to “live up to the integrity and professional expectations required from his office." Tedros, an ethnic Tigrayan, had commented on the escalating conflict in Ethiopia's Tigray region as he had called for humanitarian access to the conflict-ridden region and had condemned the war crimes. “Nowhere in the world are we witnessing hell like Tigray,” Tedros had said at a briefing condemning the Ethiopian government for blockade of international access to Tigray that halted the medical supply in the war-torn region. Tedros had lambasted the government stressing that the UN agencies had access to Syria and Yemen even during the worst conflicts recorded, ever. 

Ethiopia's letter comes ahead of the WHO meeting scheduled for January 24-29 to decide the global health body’s yearly agendas. A voting is due for May, which will be held at the 75th World Health Assembly. Candidates nominated by the Board will be subject to voting for the position. Other African nations including Kenya, Rwanda, and Botswana also wrote to the Board endorsing Dr. Tedros’ candidature. While Nairobi’s diplomats reportedly said that Kenya is supporting Dr Tedros to complete his maximum tour of two five-year terms because it is “Africa’s turn.” The other nations are endorsing Tedros for his expertise in serving two critical disease outbreaks: The Ebola epidemic in the DRC in 2018, and the coronavirus pandemic in late 2019. 


Published January 15th, 2022 at 11:54 IST