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Ethiopia accuses WHO head Tedros of backing Tigray rebels

By Reuters | November 19th 2020

World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus attends a news conference in Geneva Switzerland July 3, 2020. [Reuters]

Ethiopia's military accused World Health Organization (WHO) head Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus on Thursday of supporting and trying to procure arms and diplomatic backing for Tigray state's dominant political party, which is fighting federal troops.

"This man is a member of that group," army chief of staff General Birhanu Jula said in a televised statement.

A WHO spokesman said there was no immediate comment on the accusation against Tedros.

An Ethiopian of Tigrayan descent, Tedros served as Ethiopia's health minister and foreign minister from 2005-2016 in a government coalition led by the Tigray People's Liberation Front (TPLF).

The TPLF effectively ruled the country for decades as the strongest force in the coalition, until Prime Minister Ahmed Abiy took office two years ago.

"What do you expect from him when his group and his like are entered into the war?" Birhanu said, calling Tedros a criminal who should be stripped of his WHO post.

"We don't expect him to stand on the side of Ethiopians and condemn these people. He has been doing everything to support them, he has campaigned for neighbouring countries to condemn the war."

Birhanu did not give further specific details of his allegations against Tedros.

Tedros, 55, was elected in May 2017 as the WHO's first African director-general, and has come to global prominence as head of the health body during the COVID-19 pandemic.

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