People are giving speculations about the the chances of Dr. Tedros Adhanom winning the World Health Organizations(WHO). Would he be elected to the top UN positions is a question in every Ethiopians mind. If he could succeed, some say we should have be happy for post filled by an Ethiopian. But to the contrary, others believe he would serve as an insignia of failure for Ethiopia. Although he is educated enough to suite the position his background, track records and ideological orientation made him tragically unfit.
As the mastermind of the Ethiopian health care reform, he beyond doubt, has demonstrated that he was inefficient. All his reform efforts are shrouded by political motives. Rather bringing tangible and professional reform, he completely bureaucratized along political lines. His achievements are more of in the campaigns and advocacy side than tangible health service benefits. All the statistics that his office providing should be seen in light of the the statistics his government is feeding donors. A deliberate increase in percentage and exaggerations to meet the goals set by the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) aimed at continuing the cash flow. Even at this time of national humanitarian crisis the government whom he is a spokesperson is still boosting of development and change. While they are surviving at the mercy of western alms, they wish to occupy the Director Generalship due to their success. The reasons giving is that he, argued, would bring “fresh thinking”. I don’t want to laugh but the reason he gave is laughable.
If the government is serious enough there are far capable persons than him. Doctors like Laureate Tibebe Yemane birhan could be more appropriate than him both academically and practically. He is not a new face to the world and can bring fresh perspectives than Tedros could bring.
Do hunger and health have correlations? This is a simple question. How a persons serving as the face of the government not ashamed of promoting himself for a dignified place like the WHO and promised to bring new perspectives. Is hunger not a sources of illness, does undernourishment not an health problem, deficiencies in nutrients are not health concern. A country bedeviled by all those problems dared to vie for such post is ridiculously insane. I completely agree with the coalition of civil societies opposition to his candidacy. If Ethiopia would deserve to serve on that capacity there are persons outside the political figures and their stooges.
Why at this particular moment Tedros was nominated by the Ethiopia government? Is the government serious about his candidacy? Is Tedros himself too serious that he hopes to win? If all the answers are positive, there might be another reasons to ponder on. It is to put a caveat to see Dr. Tedros’ candidacy and Ethiopia’s current position in African diplomacy together.
Let me come start from the domestic. The internal dynamism of the TPLF is very important and It can explain a lot. Forwarding a candidate for higher international position has been used as an instrument to exclude a potential contender to the highest position in the EPRDF. As there may be a succession issues and power struggles within the TPLF, excluding possible rivals are always an integral part of the factional politics. Observation gives clue how it works in the past. Lets see who else was excluded from their post via a promise of better position either internal or international. It is form of mini “coups de tats” among the EPRDF.
Following the death of Melese Addis Ababa City Council had an election and his widow, Azeb Mesfin, was chosen as a candidate for city’s new mayor. Rumors were deliberately circulated and she vacate her seat in the HPR with the hope of being to see herself at the lucrative post. It was in a short time they twisted her off and Deriba Kuma replaced her as mayor. The coup by ousting her from the parliament also takes away her immunity, influence, closeness to the political center and other privileges. In short they made her a private citizen. The second most interesting issue is the candidacy of Sufian Ahmed, a long time manager of the collapsing economy, was forwarded as Ethiopia’s candidate in 2014 for the presidency of the African Development Bank(ADB). There was an extensive campaign but it didn’t succeeded. The position was filled by Nigerian candidate and left the ex-minister with a vague portfolio. Those are some of the mimi coups to oust undesired or feared rivals from the gravity of power.
Tedros in my view falls in this category. The only thing that makes difference is he is leading his campaign. This may help him to traverse wide areas to galvanize support but in my view it would remain a futile exercise. He may also be interested to leave the party and the sinking boat before it gets rocked by the boiling discontent.
The other example we may cite is the 2013 election of the African Union Commissioner for Peace and Security. Ethiopia has presented Ambassador Konjit SineGiorgis a long time and efficient diplomat to the post. Despite her exceptional knowledge of the commission and half a century experience, she couldn’t win and gave up in favor of the Algerian candidate. The reason might need further analysis but one can see the capability of Ethiopian diplomatic influence since the death of the tyrant is waning.
If one wants to weigh the chance of Dr. Tedros getting elected one should first seek an explanation why he may not succeed. Because it outweighs his chance to getting elected.
In the African Union 2016 is considered an African year of election. Its all top positions are open for nomination and surprisingly Ethiopia didn’t fill application for any posts. why the government doesn’t want to present a candidate for the African Union is difficult to guess. Given the importance attached to the position, one of the plausible guess is they may bartered it in order to gain support for Tedros’ at the WHO. The fact that Dr. Tedros was adopted as sole African candidate certainly drives from that. Although it gives him weight but cannot warranty victory as some apologists are arguing. Of all the 194 voting member states of the WHO assembly, Africa only has 54 votes. Secondly as a trend, if there are candidates from francophone or any candidate supported by France or United Kingdom the support each African countries giving to their candidate may switched against. Such swinging is common among African countries and well known among the diplomats.
The secret for his self campaign lies in his fear he might lose the election. If he lost, he wouldn’t have such high position in the Ethiopian government. While he runs for WHO he may lose his seat in the parliament and his ministerial position too. So better to campaign well the only way to save his face. To me his candidacy is a tactical gambit.
Sileshie is a graduate of political science and international relations from Addis Ababa university.
He worked more than eleven years as a civil servant in Ethiopia and and a reader in international affairs. He writes articles on current political issues
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