Why Ethiopia lodged a complaint against the WHO's director-general

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Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.
Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.
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  • Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, a former government minister in Ethiopia, is accused of being pro-TPLF.
  • He will start a second uncontested term as director-general of the WHO in May 2022.
  • Ethiopia was blocked from publicly launching a campaign to unseat him.

Ethiopia is accusing the World Health Organisation's (WHO) director-general, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, of politicising the organisation.

Ghebreyesus, the first African to head the WHO, is Ethiopian. 

But his home country, in a letter addressed to the WHO's executive board, says that, because he's of Tigrayan origin, he has chosen to forsake Ethiopia.

"Dr Tedros hails from Ethiopia. Ethiopia nominated him for the post of director-general of WHO. It mobilised Africans and other friendly countries to support him. As soon as the conflict was triggered by the Tigray People's Liberation Front (TPLF), he showed his true colours," the country said.

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Ethiopia claims the WHO head has become political and, in the process, is ignoring his duties at the expense of the country.

"He showed his political affiliation to TPLF over his country. In the process, he betrayed his oath of office and the international nature of the director-general to advance TPLF's propaganda," the country said in a statement.

Ethiopia's anger comes after the country's representative's failure, on Monday, to address the 150th session of the organisation's executive board. 


International newswires report that Ethiopia intended to publicly launch a crude and tribal campaign to unseat him. However, at the meeting, Ghebreyesus was the sole nomination for the post of director-general.

Ghebreyesus said: "I am very grateful for the renewed support."

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This was after the executive board held a ballot vote on Tuesday to cement his nomination as the only candidate for the position.

He will serve his second term as of May 2022 at the 75th World Health Assembly. 

Ghebreyesus, a public health researcher, has been at the helm of the WHO since 2017.

Before that, he was Ethiopia's health minister between 2005 and 2012, and then served as foreign affairs minister from 2012 to 2016.

The News24 Africa Desk is supported by the Hanns Seidel Foundation. The stories produced through the Africa Desk and the opinions and statements that may be contained herein do not reflect those of the Hanns Seidel Foundation.

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