Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director-general of the World Health Organization (W.H.O.) and the man behind the U.N. agency’s stumbling response to the coronavirus pandemic, is ready to seek another five-year leadership term.
The Ethiopian career bureaucrat and firm friend of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) took the helm of W.H.O. in 2017, becoming the first African to head the Geneva-based organization.
Stat News reported on Monday, citing a person familiar with the matter, he will now stand again. It is unclear whether others will emerge to challenge Tedros for the post, the Stat report said.
Reuters reports Tedros’ backing among African nations would be key to any re-election, while doubting he could count on support from his home country which nominated him last time, even as Hollywood has continued to sing his praises.
Lady Gaga to embattled WHO Chief: "Dr. Tedros, you’re truly a superstar." https://t.co/ECdhCJFhcq
— Breitbart News (@BreitbartNews) April 19, 2020
Diplomats noted Ethiopia’s military accused him in November of supporting and trying to procure arms and diplomatic backing for Tigray state’s dominant political party, which is fighting federal forces.
Tedros has denied taking sides in the conflict in Ethiopia although the calls for his prosecution remain.
This is not the first time Tedros has been at the center of controversy in his Ethiopian homeland, as Breitbart News reported.
In October 2017, he named Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe a “goodwill ambassador” to help combat non-communicable diseases in Africa, provoking outrage from medical professionals and human rights groups. At the time the New York Times noted:
The role of good-will ambassador is largely symbolic, but rights groups were scathing in their reaction to the symbolism of giving it to a man whose leadership, they say, has led to the collapse of its health service and major rights abuses in Zimbabwe.
Ultimately, Tedros rescinded his decision to favor Mugabe although more controversy was to come.
Last year President Donald Trump announced the United States would leave the W.H.O. after accusing Tedros of not doing enough to hold China to account for initial attempts to conceal the coronavirus outbreak from the rest of the world.White House
Joe Biden made reversing Trump’s decision one of his first moves in taking office earlier even as critizism of Tedros’ role in fighting the global pandemic remained.
Senators Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Marco Rubio (R-FL) are among the American detractors.
Cruz last year described the W.H.O. director’s conduct as “deeply troubling” in a Twitter statement that linked to an article describing how Tedros got the job with extensive assistance from the CCP:
It is deeply troubling @WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesu is helping the Chinese Communist Party obfuscate the origins and trajectory of #COVID19, at the risk of health around the globe.https://t.co/gobeAmq7Pd
— Senator Ted Cruz (@SenTedCruz) March 25, 2020
In April last year a petition calling for Tedros to resign over his handling of the coronavirus crisis drew more than one million signatures, as Breitbart News reported.
An anonymous Taiwan activist using the ID “Osuka Yip” launched the resignation call, reflecting global concerns Tedros has been economical with the truth since the deadly virus was first isolated in the southern Chinese city of Wuhan in November, 2019.
Tedros ignored the criticism and the demands for his resignation and carried on.
Delegates at the 75th World Health Assembly in May, 2022, will decide who leads the W.H.O. for the next five years and its spending of global taxpayer contributions.
The total proposed program budget for the W.H.O. for 2020-21 is U.S.$4.84 billion (roughly about U.S.$2.4 billion per year), a nine percent increase from the budget for the previous two years.
In addition, $US1 billion is earmarked for emergency operations.