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World Health Organization (WHO), and its embattled chief, Tedros Adhanom (PhD)...


April 12 , 2020


If there is any organisation in the world today that is at the centre of attention, none could outbid the World Health Organization (WHO), and its embattled chief, Tedros Adhanom (PhD). A soft-spoken man with an amiable personality, Tedros remains one of the few Ethiopians to have made it to the top corridor in global power politics. Less than 100,000 short of a million followers, Tedros is the Ethiopian with the highest following on Twitter; at nearly 255,000, Haile Gebreselassie comes in second.

Many see Tedros now as a fall guy for the Republican Party establishment in the United States, although he has a fair share of critics for his legacy with the TPLF. The Republican Party establishment, including President Donald Trump, goofed up by underestimating the menace Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) was and the speed in which it could infect the world population. Now that the COVID-19 death toll in the United States has surpassed 18,000 (up until Saturday), they are blaming the WHO and its chief for giving a blind eye to the obscure Chinese response during the early weeks of the pandemic.

From the Editorial Board of The Wall Street Journal to the niche outlet that is The National Interest, Tedros is facing the wrath of the Republican Party establishment for his alleged cover-up of a cholera outbreak in Ethiopia while he was serving as the Health minister.

It should be noted that many members of the United States Congress disagree with Trump and blame his handling of the pandemic. However, close to 14 congressional members, including ranking members, have summoned Tedros to address the body before April 16. They are demanding that he brief Congress on why he denied human-to-human transmission; failed to declare the virus a pandemic early on; was reluctant to recommend drastic measures such as a travel ban; and praised China for its handling of the outbreak despite its alleged cover-up, gossip disclosed.

Tedros' supporters at home and abroad rallied behind him. From President Sahle-worq Zewdie to Paul Kagame of Rwanda and Moussa F. Mahamat of the AU, many stood by him and condoned his call for global unity amidst blame games for a deadly virus.

Ethiopia's Prime Minister, Abiy Ahmed (PhD), has been a voice with a glaring absence up until Saturday, gossip observed. But then he was careful not to dwell with the controversy stirred up by the Republican Party establishment; however, he applauded Tedros for “leading by example.”

It is not that Abiy has ill feelings toward Tedros, claims gossip. To the contrary, they get along very well and consider each other as friends, according to gossip.

Abiy is threading the needle carefully in an attempt not to anger the Republican Party establishment, with which he has more than a cordial relationship, claims gossip. His belated rallying voice was cleverly crafted in showing support for his country folk but avoiding a head-on confrontation with those in power in the United States, says gossip.

Already, his show of defiance to the wishes of those at the Treasury Department to see him strike deals with Egypt over the Great Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) has annoyed influential people such as Steven Mnuchin, secretary of the Treasury. It would be of little surprise if Abiy is now trying, through his interlocutors in the Middle East, to signal to the Americans that he intends to smooth out the soured relationship and avoid any controversy, claims gossip.

The Americans may not be alone in their sense of exasperation in the way the series of talks over the GERD have collapsed on their watch, claims gossip. Not few African countries, particularly those in the lower riparian states, have leaders who may feel let down seeing that Ethiopia entered into tripartite talks with a potential impact on the sharing of the Nile waters but outside of the Nile Basin Initiative, according to gossip.

Abiy is now trying to mend this relationship from going tense by appointing his predecessor, Hailemariam Desalegn, as a point man for issues concerning the GERD, gossip disclosed. From Abdul Fatah el-Sisi of Egypt to US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and heads of state in the Nile Basin area, all are talking to Hailemariam, in whose composition Tekeda Alemu, former state minister for Foreign Affairs, was brought on board, gossip revealed.

If it was not for travel bans imposed on countries to contain COVID-19, Hailemariam and his team would have been on the charm offensive trail, including a planned meeting to South Africa that was cancelled at the last minute a couple of weeks ago, gossip disclosed.



PUBLISHED ON Apr 12,2020 [ VOL 21 , NO 1041]



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