Ethiopia Accuses WHO Chief of Backing Tigray Rebels

ADDIS ABABA (Somaliguardian) – Ethiopia’s military accused the World Health Organization (WHO) chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus on Thursday of paying efforts to procure arms and diplomatic support for Tigray regional leaders amid fighting between local forces and federal troops.

Ethiopian army chief of staff General Birhanu Jula said in a televised statement that Tedros “is a member of that group [TPLF] and he is a criminal” and called for removal from his post as WHO chief. Mr Birhanu did not offer any evidence to support his accusations.

There was no immediate WHO comment on the accusation against Tedros, who is an Ethiopian of Tigrayan ethnicity.

Ethiopia government’s accusations come at a time when the World Health Organization is under considerable pressure on how it handled global COVID-19 pandemic crisis after the US, its biggest donor, froze funding over a dispute involving China. Resurgence of the virus and related deaths are reported in many countries across the world.

Before his new post as WHO chief, Tedros served as Ethiopia’s Health and Foreign Minister from 2005 -2016 in a ruling coalition led by the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), which had ruled the Horn of Africa country for decades until Abiy Ahmed assumed office in 2018.

Birhanu accused Tedros of using WHO to try to get diplomatic support and weapons for the TPLF. “He has been doing everything to support them, he has campaigned to get the neighboring countries to condemn the war. He worked to facilitate weapons for them (the TPLF),” he said in a televised news conference, adding: “He tried to lobby people by using his international profile and mission to get support for the TPLF junta.”

It’s yet unclear if the unverified accusations from Ethiopian government are able to remove Tedros from his post, having served for three years as WHO chief after he was elected in May 2017.

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