Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, a member of the Tiger minority, denies being biased in the conflict in Ethiopia.
Ethiopia internal conflict rose to the level of international diplomacy on Thursday when the head of the Ethiopian National Army Berhani Jula accused the WHO Director-General of the World Health Organization of supporting the state of Tigray uprising.
Jula said at a news conference that the WHO director Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus seeks support for the leadership of the Tigray Regional Government and attempts to arm the rebellious TPLF (Tigray People’s Liberation Front).
Tedros denied the allegation.
The Ethiopian central government and the TPLF have been at war since early November. An estimated hundreds of people have already died in the war, but confirmed information about the events is difficult to obtain because Ethiopia has shut down Tigray communications and is unable to access the media.
Ethiopia Army chief Jula said at a news conference on Thursday that Tedros, a former Ethiopian health minister, is “part of the group”. He referred to the TPLF as a group.
Tedros belongs to the Tiger people living in the state of Tigray. He served as Ethiopia’s Minister of Health and Foreign Minister when the TPLF previously held a dominant position in the country’s politics and economy.
“He has tried to get neighboring countries to condemn the war. He has tried to get them weapons, ”Berhanu said according to news agency AFP, but did not provide evidence for his claim.
Also spokesman for the Ethiopian Crisis Council Redwan Hussein said “the government is not happy” with Tedros.
Tedros commented on the allegations, saying that he learned as a child how devastating warfare is and has therefore always sought to act peacefully.
“Argument has been suggested that I have chosen the side of this situation. That’s not true, ”Tedros wrote on Twitter. “I want to say that I am only on one side, and it is a half of peace.”
UN spokesman Stéphane Dujarric announced that the UN Secretary-General António Guterres has given its support to Tedros.
“We have all seen what kind of work he has done in leading WHO,” the spokesman said. He called Tedros an “exemplary international official”.
Tedros was appointed head of the WHO as the first African in 2017. Over the past year, his name has become familiar as he has led the international community in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic.
In Ethiopia the conflict between the central government and the TPLF has been burning for some time.
The TPLF, representing Tigray, came to power in Ethiopia in 1991 when the Marxist regime was overthrown. For the next nearly 30 years, the TPLF and a small minority tiger population had greater power in the Ethiopian administration and economy.
The situation changed when the largest ethnic group in Ethiopia represented Oromo Abiy Ahmed became prime minister in 2018. Last year, he received the Nobel Peace Prize for his merits with the peace agreement with Eritrea.
The TPLF has lost its power during the Aby administration and accuses the central government of discrimination. Many other Ethiopian tribes believe that the Tigers used to have a disproportionate amount of power.
In August The state of Tigray held regional elections against the ban by the Ethiopian central government. In the spring, national elections were also to be held in Ethiopia, but they were postponed due to the corona pandemic.
The Aby administration accuses the TPLF of attacking Ethiopian national army bases.
As fighting intensifies, the UN has warned of a full-scale humanitarian crisis. Nearly 40,000 people have fled the state of Tigray to fight the Sudanese side.
On Friday, Tigray troops fired rockets at the town of Bahir Dar in the neighboring Amhara area, but no one was killed in the attack, news agencies say.