Statement on Tedros Adhanom’s re-nomination as WHO director-general

When candidates run for director-general of the World Health Organization, their home country’s fellow citizens are usually their biggest supporters. Tedros Adhanom’s 2017 race was an exception. Thousands of his fellow Ethiopians protested against his campaign.

They objected to Tedros’ candidacy because for the past five years he had helped preside over their mass murder, torture, unjust incarceration, and even genocide as the  Tigrayan People’s Liberation Front dictatorship’s third highest official and chief apologist 2012 to 2016.

When Tedros was named Ethiopia’s Minister of Health in 2005, then dictator Meles Zenawi did not say he was appointing him for his medical or administrative competence. Meles said he wanted Tedros because of his loyalty to the TPLF.[1]

Thanks to that loyalty, Tedros moved up to become his nation’s foreign minister, hobnobbing with celebrities and feted in the halls of power.

The Ethiopian protesters knew Tedros had repaid the TPLF’s trust by lying about the success of the regime’s poverty reduction programs,[2] trying to hide a 2015 famine,[3] denying a 2016 massacre by government security forces,[4] and defending the persecution of journalists who tried to reveal the truth.[5] These attempted cover-ups had cost thousands of lives.

When Tedros ran for director-general of the WHO, it was China, another dictatorship with mistakes to hide, that used its diplomatic muscle to ensure he won. China likely had Tedros pegged as a WHO leader who would play ball for them as he had done for the TPLF.

Why did so many World Health Assembly representatives go along with China? The Ethiopians’ protests were a plea for justice. But they were also a warning. Common sense dictated that a man capable of such reckless misconduct should not be trusted with the world’s largest health agency.

But Chinese diplomatic muscle and African ethnic pride overcame common sense.

Sure enough, before long Tedros’ new backer also had some embarrassing news it wanted downplayed—the incompetent failure to contain a highly contagious virus. Based on Tedros’ modus operandi demonstrated in Ethiopia, the most likely interpretation of the events that followed is that he loyally tried to help his patron out for as long as he could get away with it as he had been conditioned to do by his years in the TPLF—with catastrophic results.

The World Health Assembly representatives who voted for Tedros in 2017 knew, or should have known, they were choosing someone untrustworthy. They share responsibility for the pandemic that killed so many of their own citizens.

Yet incredibly, now they plan to do it again.

The World Health Assembly will elect a new director-general on May 22, 2022. According to Reuters, Tedros will run, unopposed, for director-general again.

The Center for Global Development estimates that the annual probability of a pandemic on the scale of COVID-19 in any given year is between 2.5-3.3 percent.”[6] That equals a 12.5 to 16.5 percent risk during the five years of the next WHO chief’s term. The odds are roughly the same as playing Russian Roulette.

Tedros’ behavioral pattern implies the risk that he will repeat the same misconduct the next time a political ally needs some bad news spun is substantially greater than most other candidates for his job would present. That poses a global security threat.

It’s unconscionable that the World Health Assembly representatives, who already bear responsibility for electing someone unreliable the first time and will overlook the likelihood that Tedros betrayed the world to vote for him again, won’t even consider the danger to their own people.

Nominations end September 23. Unless a competing candidate is nominated by then, this obviously corrupt process puts the entire planet at higher risk of another pandemic.

END STATEMENT

Footnotes:

[1] Meles Zenawi speech to parliament, 2005

[2] Compare 2014 USAID Frontiers in Development Forum speech, in which Tedros claimed EPRDF had lowered Ethiopia’s poverty rate to 29% to J. Bonsa’s analysis in Ethiopia’s Economic Growth Borrows from Enron’s Accounting which reveals the 29% figure to be a lie.

[3] Why the Ethiopian government downplays the ongoing famine, Deseret News  Dec 11, 2015

[4] Compare Tedros’ 2016 claims on his blog regarding the 2016 Ireecha massacre with Human Rights Watch letter.

[5] “The problem is when they [journalists] trespass a law. As I said earlier, I cannot go into details. But there were evidences that they were not respecting the rules and the laws of the country… we haven’t jailed any journalists because he or she is a journalist…when they trespass the rule of the country, they will be in trouble…” Transcript of 2015 CNN interview with Christianne Amanpour.

[6] The Next Pandemic Could Come Soon and Be Deadlier, Eleni Smitham and Amanda Glassman, August 25, 2021

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *