Fact-checking some of our opposition to Tedros Adhanom’s controversial & misplaced WHO aspiration

4 May

By Keffyalew Gebremedhin, The Ethiopia Observatory (TEO)
In trying to ensure rejection of Dr. Tedros Adhanom by the World Health Assembly (WHA) at its 70th session in Geneva, no doubt, Getahun Assefa G/Yesus‘s efforts are more than sincere.

That’s why I would like to assure him that all of us would stand with him in his every effort to sway the majority of the 194 WHA states members into denying the Ethiopian candidate their votes during the May third-quarter election processes. This is not a matter of the candidate being Ethiopian or not, or TPLF official, our beef with him is his incompetence.

This comes from a recognition that, if this is not done in good time, his example would destroy future prospects of bright Africans that he – the child of ethnic political privileges and tutelage – could not become one!

I would thus like the writer to note I have been an early riser, a persistent campaigner against Dr. Tedros Adhanom’s candidacy – so far having presented to the international community 15 articles from April 2016 to the present. In other words, I believe with every fibre in my body – as he does – Dr. Tedros Adhanom would prove a mistaken choice for the World Health Organization’s (WHO) top post for the following reasons:

    (a) In keeping with its uninterrupted tradition, WHO needs a medical doctor as its ninth director-general; since the Ethiopian candidate happens to be a malaria researcher, he is not suitable. This point I have made early on a subject of my discussion, initially within myself, and later in a few of my articles, as indiated here: April 2016; September 2016; October 2016; November 2016 and January 2017.

    (b) In his years of service to Ethiopia from 2001 to the present, Dr.Tedros Adhanom has been personification of the hard-knuckled political cadre with his habitual misrepresentations and arduous defense of the the crimes of the horrendously dictatorial ruling Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF). For nearly a year now, he has been working as advisor with rank of minister to the prime minister. This is intended to give him pay and freedom to travel the world for campaigning. In its 26th year in power and not winning a single one of the five elections since organized since it seized power in 1991, the TPLF has simply been bleeding Ethiopia subjecting it to its misgovernance through individuals that live for their gains, not the nation’s interests. It’s very reassuring that his candidacy for the WHO post has created difficulties for some member states, mainly because of the violations of the human rights of the Ethiopian people he has been known for. His name is not mentioned for one single public policy either he designed or successfully implemented.

    (c) Dr. Tedros Adhanom is without a single principle that could stand him out as a national or international leader. He is a taker of everything to his gain and without showing a single principle he is committed to. It is only such a person that could strike such a traitorous deal with Kenyan officials in February 2015. They demanded Ethiopia-Kenya to do new border demarcation. The whole deal is posited on Kenya relinquishing its bid to membership in the United Nations Security Council in favor of Ethiopia. On its part, Ethiopia removing any unsettled claim over the Omo River area, including any vestiges of Ethiopian claim over the Elemi Triangle, about which all along for several decades from days of Emperor Haileselassie Ethiopia avoided discussion without ever never renouncing its right to the territory.

    Source: the niles.org

    Because of that, every spring our nomadic people from the Omo Valley (Dassanch – Hammer) have continued to graze their cattle Ethiopia’s two succeeding governments arming them to defend themselves against attackers by any side. There is no better evidence of a territorial claim under international law. Unfortunately Tedros Adhanom took the Kenyan bait, and consented recognizing the right of Kenya over that of Ethiopia and South Sudan on the 14,000 sq.km of area. As I wrote at the time, this firmed up my rejection of him for everything, especially regarding his candidacy for the WHO top post. What could demonstrate better the lack of integrity in a person than such a sovereignty test?

    The horse trading by Tedros Adhanom horrifying, which includes the sell of Ethiopia’s sovereign interests, even the foreign minister of the Seychelles Joël Morgan of a country contending for Security Council membership on January 31, 2016 spoke before the AU Summit. Accordingly, he observed:

    “So while we remain firm in our support of the principles of rotation as being sacrosanct to our institution, and that those who have not served before should be given the opportunity to do so, we also recognised the need here for gentlemanly conduct. Therefore it is in recognition of Ethiopia’s previous agreement, and our principles of gentlemanly conduct that we have withdrawn our bid in favour of Ethiopia, and we have done so with the provision that Seychelles reserves the right to be the preferred candidate the next time the seat comes to the East Africa Region.”

    (d) Dr Tedros Adhanom started out as head of the Tigray health bureau in 2001. From there, as a member of the TPLF, he catapulted into a ministerial post in 2005. Wherever he had worked, he left the mark of a political operative, lover of good time, but never a professional with a vision – be it at Ethiopia’s health ministry, among others, where nepotism in medical school entry, based on ethnicity stained his reputation, or later at the foreign ministry, awarding the best diplomatic posts to the members of his ethnic group.

To elaborate the above (c), as I had done before, Dr. Tedros Adhanom adores form over content; aspires success with least input from his side. This is not the make-up of a meritorious leader who could inspire those working with him and under him, be it nationally or at the international level.

Therefore, my opposition to him has to do – not as some stupidly alleged recently – he being a Tigrean or a member of the party in power in Ethiopia. But suffice to mention here that rather it is he and his party that are known to ignore the human person by making ethnicity their religion and penalizing other Ethiopians because of their ethnic origins, out of the many instances, as the information in (d), above, indicates.

In writing this piece, rather it is not to restate what I had written before. This time I am going public regarding those worrying demands on member states, or blemishes being attributed to either WHO, as an organization, or the international system by the opponents of Tedros Adhanom. These assaults even include longstanding and even turn to accepting the principles of equitable geographical rotation, which has opened it up, I can say, interestingly for the first time for Africa after dogged negotiations by the African Group and allies.

In the past, the position especially was hardened more by Japan and some Europeans, vigorously opposing Africa as a group of nations with the highest disease burden and yet wanting to run the organization without footing the bill. This changed in the 2010 consensus, I had discussed in my April 18, 2016 artcile, citing the consensus document EB128/27 of December 9, 2010.

Based on this, among other things, the Assembly of the African Union in January 2016 was given the opportunity to nominate its candidate for the WHO post, which it did, by decision EX.CL/Dec.917 (XXVIII) Rev 2, stating:

“Election to the post of Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO) during elections scheduled for May 2017 on the occasion of the 70th Session of the World Health Assembly, the candidature of H.E. Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia”

This again was distributed to all member states as Decision on African Candidatures for Posts Within the International System (Doc. EX.CL/949(XXIV)).

That is why I fear that in trying to do a lot of things without adequate information and in a small space, sometimes there is the danger of stepping on mines that over the long-run may entail unintended consequences, especially against our own interests. I am making here reference to the erroneous information in the Getahun Assefa’s article alleging “African Ministries of Health are not made aware” about Tedros Adhanom’s candidacy to the WHO DG post!

To be frank, why Africa could not get better and more suitable candidates to WHO DG post is, because the TPLF had bought Africa, when against the traditions of the African Union, the TPLF people airlifted the African ministerial delegations for days to hold their meetings in Mekelle, instead of the Addis Abeba its established headquarters. Of course, Ethiopian poor taxpayers footed the extra bill, of airfare and nights of lavish parties, music and dance the AU’s ministerial committee enjoyed at Mekelle.

Miraculously, this blinder on African delegations worked for the TPLF. On their return to Addis Abeba, the delegations made it official that Africa would vote for Ethiopia’s candidates, despite procedural issues Senegal had raised and contended. It was all pushed under the rag, as if that member state’s wishes did not matter.

Ethiopia’s over-representation in the United Nations, according to Getahun Assefa’s article is right. This is because Ethiopia is paying to the UN regular budget 0.10 percent as an LDC member. That is why, as he indicated, there are a small number of posts for Ethiopian professionals. In fact, the overrepresentation came not because there are too many Ethiopians on professional posts, as he alleges.

This rather is a function of Addis Abeba being a headquarters country for the United Nations, by virtue of hosting the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA). The majority of General Service staff are Ethiopians – secretaries, security, maintenance, drivers, etc. Such is the limitations that one could count with the fingers of one hand in ECA the Ethiopian professionals, very few, if any, above P-3/P-4 at all.

Therefore, the overrepresentation of Ethiopians in the United Nations is a myth, which has not given the country the proportionate influence to its long association with the UN since San Francisco. This is partly the making of our poverty, and partly the poverty of goodwill towards our qualified citizens by our citizens and the officials, especially those with some authority. It is called jealousy.

Ethiopia got its first undersecretary-general, when SG Ban ki-moon appointed Tegenework Gettu to be in charge of General Assembly and Conference Management. This has paved his path within the system, finally back to the UNDP as an associate administrator. I recall the furore some Ethiopians raised the day he got the USG job, accusing him of being a TPLF lackey – sort of he who is not with us is against us syndrome!

I reacted angrily in an article, because I know the person, we used to be good friends and he is qualified. There is no ethnicity or Uncle C over there!

I strongly believe that, at the professional level, where I had been in service for some years, Ethiopia remains under-represented. However, when unknowingly we repeat this scarecrow, we are victimizing our own country.

On the other hand, if we take: Egypt, Nigeria, Uganda, Kenya, Ivory Coast, Algeria, Senegal, Gambia, Zimbabwe, at one time or another they have or had cabinet level posts in the UN Secretariat, UNEP, Habitat, in peacekeeping operations, World Bank, UNDP, UNFPA, UNICEF, IMF, etc.

As stated above, one needs to be aware that the recruitment restrictions are to Ethiopians because of the the General Service base in Addis Abeba, then limiting our share in the professional category from P-1 to D-1. If Getahun Assefa’s contention is about the three categories (D-2, ASG and USG) it is an open challenge to the Charter’s Article 97 and the authority it has reposed in the Secretary-General, which states:

“The Secretariat shall comprise a Secretary-General and such staff as the Organization may require. The Secretary-General shall be appointed by the General Assembly upon the recommendation of the Security Council. He shall be the chief administrative officer of the Organization.”

Outside those posts not restricted by the Gentleman’s Agreement, I discussed in my April 29/2017 article regarding the unholy alliance bewteen Bill Gates and UK former minister Andrew Mitchell, the Secretary-General can recruit the senior staff he needs, even from those listed as over-represented.

The reserved posts in the Secretariat for big powers are: Political Affairs Dept (UK), Economic and Social Affairs Dept (China), Peacekeeping Dept (France), United Nations Office in Geneva (UNOG, Russia). The United States had always kept the Administration and Management Dept for itself. It still remains the largest contributor to the regular budget of the Organization at 22 percent.

In recent years, Japan being second highest contributor to the regular budget at 9.68 percent has been handed that department.

One problem with the article I am reacting to is, it jumbles together all posts occupied by Ethiopians within international organizations that have different processes and mechanisms of selecting their executives. For example, it mentions the United Nations Office in Nairobi (UNON, partly funded by UN regular budget), WIPO, and finally he also mentions the fact that Dr. Kesetebirhan Admasu is CEO of Roll Back Malaria (RBM), a non-United Nations organization.

The UNON ASG appointment of Sahlework Zewdie is by the Secretary-General using his authority under Article 97, although Ethiopia is an over-represented country. He could do it tomorrow again or someone else if he is in need of the talent a particular Ethiopian possesses!

The point of all this is to caution us not to be our own enemies in trying to fight and defeat unjust TPLF-Tedros Adhanom-style insurrection into the much-coveted high-level post he is least qualified.

When we turn to Tedros Adhanom, anyone who had watched him during his job interview on WHO television on November 1, 2016 would understand me, for titling my article on the subject: Dr. Tedros Adhanom’s presentation of his vision for WHO at Geneva, an embarrassing moment for Ethiopia!

I should close by turning to what Getahun Assefa G/Yesus has sought to title his piece, Tedros Adhanom becoming the trouble awaiting WHO member states!

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