Tedros Adhanom’s disgraceful and embarrassing performance at the recently held public debate for the choice of the next WHO Director General: Why Ethiopians oppose his candidacy?
“If a wall does not open its mouth by cracking, lizards cannot enter though it”- Ibo proverb, African wisdom.
by Getahun Assefa G/Yesus
On 1 and 2 November 2016, a live forum was webcast as part of the process to elect the next Director General of the World Health Organization (WHO). Tedros Adhanom the previous Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ethiopia was one of the candidates who presented themselves to the membership of the organization.
The day when Tedros Adhanom publicly appeared for open deliberation (1 November) can be described as cataclysmic for him at least for three important reasons. First, early in the morning the same day a few minutes before his encounter with the audience, his government announced that he is no more a minister of foreign affairs. He was replaced and left without any government portfolio. The reasons for his dismissal, as announced by public media of the Government of Ethiopia, were incompetence and neglect of public trust, combined with necked populism. The minister regarded as the “worrier of social media” (tweeter and Facebook) has long been accused by the ethnic junta as self-indulging and self-promoting. His disgraceful removal from political portfolio was necessary and long overdue but it was untimely for him. This is because of the fact that his candidacy was filed by the Government and all financial costs related to his campaign are borne by the junta as he reportedly claimed. Secondly, the day when Adhanom publicly presented himself to the WHO membership for the first time since he announced his candidature, massive protests by Ethiopians residing in Europe rocked his foundation. He was simply rendered speechless by the cheer number of protestors and the aggression he and his bodyguards suffered while entering the WHO compound on 1 November around 8 am. Third and final reason has to do with his shamefully sub-standard performance during Question and Answer (Q & A) session following presentation of his visionless vision to WHO Member States. The forum dubbed as “The Candidates’ Forum” was webcast on the WHO website in all official languages and can be accessed on (http://www.who.int/dg/election/en/). He was asked three questions but failed to respond one out of the three. Apparently, he was given 0 out of 3 by a university professor closer to the evaluation. However, despite his laughable performance, he may have a slim chance to go to the next phase as the process remains crude at this and the next stage. One of the Q &A sessions was funny and entertaining. The eloquent ambassador of Brazil challenged him that he “espoused the agenda of the North despite his claim that he was from a developing country”. The question which was crystal clear had to be repeated once by the ambassador and one more time by the chairman. The laughter in the room was defining but still after the repetition, Adhanom failed to get the question right. “Do you mean how I will implement SDGs ( Sustainable Development Goals)?” He quivered. There was no relationship at all between the simple and straightforward question posed to him and his mumbles. It appears that he has no clue as to what “espousing the agenda of the North” signifies. The question was how can you be taken as a “development candidate”- meaning pro developing country interest while advocating the agenda of the North- i.e. developed countries???? Only Tedros Adhanom can tell us where in the question was SDGs referred to?
I will provide detailed accounts of the open session or the Candidates’ Forum in my future submissions. In the present article, I will provide plausible justifications as to why Ethiopians all over the world oppose Adhanom’s candidacy to the WHO’s top post. The reasons are not exhaustive but can provide the underlying reasons, which the WHO membership should take into account in their subsequent steps in the election process of the next WHO Director General
- Ethiopia’s unhinged political elites (where Adhanom is spin-doctor and henchman), kidnap and imprison opponents and journalists without due process of the law (in a clear manifestation of lawlessness). The regime also commits killings, imprisonment, disappearances, extra-judicial dismissal against civilians including academics, university students and individuals that would have directly contributed to the improved health system in one of the poorest countries of the world. Ethio-Swedish cardiologist Fikru Maru has been in prison without trial for the last 5 years. Dr Fikru Maru, with supports from Swedfund, (Swedish Development Agency), had been running a private cardiac hospital in the Ethiopian capital since 2006. He was apprehended at the Addis Ababa airport in 2010 while he was traveling to treat seriously ill cardiac patients and at the same time visit his newly founded state of the arts hospital in Addis Ababa
(http://sverigesradio.se/sida/artikel.aspx?programid=2054&artikel=6088289). To date Dr. Maru has not been seen by lawyers and medical doctors. Nor has he been brought to due process of the law. He was imprisoned when Tedros Adhanom is Minister of health (nicknamed Minister of Death). Experts, academics and ordinary Ethiopians expect that the government of Sweden will stand up and fight against the nomination of any candidate from failed states to head the WHO. As major funding countries of the WHO’s operational programmes in developing countries, including Ethiopia, not only Sweden but also the entire Scandinavian States will not continue funding the WHO. . Such trends could have grave consequences on operational and advocacy work of the Organization and its survival.
- Adhanom, in his earlier capacity as Minister of Foreign Affairs, personally orchestrated, systematically organized and tacitly negotiated terms and conditions with Yemen’s leaders and securities for the abduction (kidnapping), imprisonment and torturing of Andargachew Tsige ( leader of the opposition party ) for a political vendetta. Mr Tsige who is also a British national and father of three children have no access to lawyers, legal advices or services, medical doctors, health facilities and family visitation. (http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/jun/25/philip-hammond-ethiopia-warning-death-row-andargachew-tsige). Mr Tsiga has not been tried and to date no one knows his trails or whereabouts. Such a blatant violation of human rights and utter disregard to international law drew a wider condemnation from the international community and rage from the Ethiopian public.
- Not only is Adhanom spin doctor and henchman to autocratic regime but he is also pathological liar. In his public appearance including in social media he clearly reflect his self-indulgence and cognitive dissonance. He lies in a broad day light and goes far away to make the public believe that “in Ethiopia the Government is capable of forcing rains to fall year in year out in a desired quantity and quality”. He wanted to make us believe that the unhinged dictatorial and autocratic regime in “Ethiopia is democratic, humane, considerate and free from hate and corruption.” During the interview with the Voice of Amerca (VoA) Amharic Service on 30 July 2015, he flattered the public that Andargachew Tsige, abducted from the Yemeni capital (Sana’a) for his opposition of the regime in Ethiopia is being treated humanely”. He went onto saying that “Mr. Tsige is given laptops and office spaces to write a book”. There is no more mockery that exceeds Adhanom’s pathological lies. Actually, Mr. Tsige is on death row, with no access to lawyers, doctors and family visitation. To date no one knows his trails and whereabouts. How will the international community and the Ethiopian public have trust and confidence in such a liar who argues that “on the Ethiopian soil and sky a bull (not a cow) gives birth to offspring”? (please watch or listen to the Amharic interview at https://www.youtube.com?watch?v=Vy17SAHkM9A). In another interview with the Voice America (VoA) Amharic Service Adhanom continued with his embarrassing lies and deliberately misinforming the public. He said that “only 8.2 million, out of the 96 million, needed food aid this time”. He forgot that in some countries 8 million is total population but more importantly the figure had to be quickly revised by the government as 10 million which itself is by far underestimation particularly when compared to the United Nations estimates of 18 million. (Please listen or watch the interview at http://ecadforum.com/2015/11/23/foreign-minister-tedros-adhanom/)
- Early in its formation, the government of Adhanom imprisoned and killed Ethiopia’s foremost surgeon professor Asrat Woldeyes. Professor Asrat Woldeyes died in 1999 at the age of 70 in notorious Ethiopian prison. He was denied basic healthcare by the ethnic junta. Professor Asrat Woldeyes was described as “successively Ethiopia’s most distinguished surgeon, physician and university dean, most controversial political party leader and best known political prisoner” (for details visit. http://www.theguardian.com/news/1999/may/25/guardianobituaries.ethiopia. Professor Asrat Woldeyes who was the first Ethiopian to qualify as a surgeon in the west, after medical studies at Edinburgh University, devoted most of his professional life to surgery at the two main hospitals in Addis Ababa, and to the deanship of medicine at the Addis Ababa University. Adhanom and his cronies killed the surgeon denying him access to treatment against hypertension and diabetics. Given such disastrous records and lawlessness, the candidacy of Tedros Adhanom to the top post of WHO can be viewed as stupidity at best and idiocy at worse.
- Dr Tedros Adhanom is the Member of the Central Committee of the ruling Ethnic junta, abusing Ethiopians. He is the spin-doctor and henchman of the political system in the country as member of the Central Committee of the Tigryan People’s Liberation Front (TPLF). TPLF has been conducting political orchestra of Ethiopia for the last 25 years. Adhanom is also member of the Executive Council of the toothless Ethiopian Peoples’ Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF). EPRDF is an “all inclusive” camouflage party for the dictatorial regime of Ethiopia controlled and directed by TPLF. It is viewed as a Trojan horse for the Tigray dominated ethnocratic police state. The records of the brutal regime in Ethiopia, which is directly and indirectly controlled by Adhanom’s TPLF for the last 25 years, are nothing short of a disaster of epic proportion. These include: brut dictatorship, cronyism, vagabond capitalism, rampant corruption just to name a few. These are hallmarks of failed state and failed governance riddled with self aggrandizement, populism and rot corruption, attributes which can lead the WHO to its eventual demise in the event Adhanom holds the top post of the Organization. At this hour, there is a popular uprising in Ethiopia against the unhinged dictators and the brutal regime. Thousands are imprisoned, maimed, disappeared or killed by the armed forces directed and controlled by Adhanom’s party, TPLF.The regime has been striking fear and causing havoc on the Ethiopian soil. It is prepared to do more, if the current protests continue. In short, not only Adhanom belongs to the dreaded group ethnic junta but he is spin-doctor and henchman to the system that sank low by all stretch of the imagination.
- Tedros Adhanom manipulated the African Union. The endorsement of Adhanom’s candidacy by the Executive Council of the African Union for the post of the Director General of the World Health Organization was a clear manifestation of disregard to international governance structure including the WHO. This reveals the “credit worthlessness “of the African Union which itself has been led by arch dictators and autocrats such as Robert Mugabe. Adhanom’s candidacy was endorsed by the AU Council under the chairmanship of Mr Robert Mugabe (aged 91, president for life of Zimbabwe, 36years in office and the outgoing chairman of the African Union). Adding insult to injury, Robert Mugabe has been replaced by Idriss Debby of Chad. Deby seized power in 1990 and still in power (26 years in office and the current chairman of the African Union). Sadly, the African state of affairs has long lost credibility in the face of the international community and larger public opinion. Any nomination for global governance endorsed by the reign of Robert Mugabe and sanctioned by Idriss Deby will only lead to dictatorship and decadency, which will gradually erode WHO’s credibility and capacity to meet global health challenges. In fact, Africa lost a real opportunity to lead the WHO by endorsing Tedors Adhanom who virtually reduced strategic significance of global health issues to mere budgetary and administrative issues. His visionless statement of his vision about the organization focused on financial and budgetary issues. These issues should have been seen as afterthoughts that depend on clear articulation of substantive health issues.