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WHO Chief makes bid for second term as his home country of Ethiopia accuses him of ‘misconduct’

New York Daily News logo New York Daily News 1/26/2022 Jami Ganz

The World Health Organization chief laid out additional plans to battle the COVID-19 pandemic Tuesday as his native Ethiopia lobbed criticisms at him.

As he is running unopposed for a second term, WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, who goes by his first name like many Ethiopians, will almost certainly win in May.

The formality of his presentation came on the heels of a Jan. 14 news release from Ethiopia’s government, which has been in Tigray fighting militants, and said the government had sent a letter to WHO.

In that letter, the government said it accused Tedros — an ethnic Tigrayan who is allegedly an active member of the Tigray People’s Liberation Front — of “misconduct” after the WHO official called for “unfettered” humanitarian access to Tigray and claimed the United Nations-backed agency hadn’t been permitted to send aid to the region since last summer.

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director General of the World Health Organization. © Salvatore Di Nolfi Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director General of the World Health Organization.

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director General of the World Health Organization. (Salvatore Di Nolfi/)

Previously Ethiopia’s foreign and health minister, Tedros, according to the country’s government, has gotten in the middle of internal affairs and has “not lived up to the integrity and professional expectations required from his office.” On Monday, Zenebe Kebede, Ethiopia’s ambassador in Geneva, also claimed Tedros has used his position to further “his personal political interest.”

Tedros on Tuesday did not acknowledge the allegations against him, but said he does “remain completely committed to serving your member states and your people.”

WHO has faced a mountain of criticism for the way it handled COVID-19 in the early days of the pandemic as well as its response to China, where the virus was first identified in late 2019. An independent probe last year found a slew of instances of sexual abuse and exploitation in 2019, when WHO helmed a response to Ebola in Congo, a revelation that Tedros on Tuesday said “horrified” him and resulted in a “robust” response from WHO.

The agency told Ethiopian government spokesman Legesse Tulu it has not yet decided whether it will look into the allegations against Tedros.

“If this is the case, it really shows the partiality of WHO. It opposes its basic principles of foundation,” Tulu told The Associated Press. “We still insist on this esteem[ed] organization to investigate the case.”

With News Wire Services


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