U.S. government has no evidence WHO director general Tedros Adhnom Ghebreyesus is backing Tigray rebels

The United States government on Thursday indicated that it did not have any evidence the director general of the World Health Organization (WHO) Tedros Adhnom Ghebreyesus is supporting Tigray’s rebels.

Asked by reporters via teleconference on Thursday from Washington DC whether he had seen any evidence the WHO chief was either lobbying or trying to purchase weapons for the TPLF, the U.S. Department of State Bureau of African Affairs Assistant Secretary Tibor P. Nagy said the allegations did not come from the US government.

Pressed further to say whether the US government had seen any evidence the WHO boss was actively engaged with the rebels, Tibor P. Nagy referred reporters to seek answers from the Ethiopian government.

Also on the call with reporters was U.S. Ambassador to Ethiopia Michael A. Raynor.

Ethiopia’s military on Thursday baselessly accused Tedros of backing the rebels.

The military claimed without providing any evidence that the WHO chief was trying to procure arms for Tigray state’s main political party, the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), which is fighting the federal government.

Ethiopia’s army chief of staff General Birhanu Jula said in a televised address that Dr. Tedros Adhnom Ghebreyesus should be removed from office because he is “a criminal” and “a member of that group.”

Birhanu claimed that Tedros was using his international platform 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,” Birhanu said in his televised address, without providing any evidence.

“He has worked to facilitate weapons for them. He tried to lobby people by using his international profile and mission to get support for the TPLF junta,” he added.

Tedros is an Ethiopian of Tigrayan origin but the military did not provide any evidence to back up its incendiary claims.

As he fights the deadly coronavirus, Dr. Tedros, who was Ethiopia’s health minister and foreign minister in a ruling coalition led by the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), has often come under attack from people in his own country, and from the outgoing American President, Donald John Trump, who also baselessly accused him and the WHO of being “China-centric” and of not providing the US early warnings about COVID-19.

President Donald J. Trump, joined by senior White House advisors and Cabinet members, addresses his remarks in the Rose Garden at a press briefing on issues with China and announcing the termination of U.S. relations with the World health Organization. (Official White House Photo by Joyce N. Boghosian) 
President Donald J. Trump, joined by senior White House advisors and Cabinet members, addresses his remarks in the Rose Garden at a press briefing on issues with China and announcing the termination of U.S. relations with the World health Organization. (Official White House Photo by Joyce N. Boghosian)

But a book and tapes by Washington Post journalist Bob Woodward showed that Mr. Trump deliberately downplayed the pandemic to protect his presidency. He also praised China himself and only began to blame everyone else when many Americans began to die under his watch.

President Donald J. Trump, joined by senior White House advisors and Cabinet members, addresses his remarks in the Rose Garden at a press briefing on issues with China and announcing the termination of U.S. relations with the World health Organization. (Official White House Photo by Joyce N. Boghosian) 
President Donald J. Trump, joined by senior White House advisors and Cabinet members, addresses his remarks in the Rose Garden at a press briefing on issues with China and announcing the termination of U.S. relations with the World health Organization. (Official White House Photo by Joyce N. Boghosian)

The TPLF was the ruling party in Ethiopia for decades as the most powerful part of the coalition until Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed took office in 2018 promising to bring change.

The Prime Minister of Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia H.E. Mr. Abiy Ahmed arrives in Sochi to take part in the Russia–Africa Summit in October 2019 Photo: Valery Sharifulin/TASS

The TPLF has refused to join Abiy’s own national party, after the other three regional parties were folded into his own.

Tedros, 55, has survived previous unfounded accusations since he was elected in May 2017 as the WHO’s first African director-general.

Chief White House Correspondent for

Simon Ateba is Chief White House Correspondent for Today News Africa. Simon covers President Joe Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris, the U.S. government, the United Nations, the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and other financial and international institutions in Washington D.C. and New York City.

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