Africa

How WHO chief Tedros violated UN rules to advance TPLF interests in Ethiopia

In leaked audio, UN staffers accuse World Health Organization Secretary-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus of violating UN code to further the objectives of his political allies in Ethiopia’s conflict

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, World Health Organization (WHO) Secretary-General and overseer of the UN’s global coronavirus response, has established a shadow relief operation that sidesteps the authority of Ethiopia’s sovereign government and directly coordinates with his political allies in the country’s civil war.

The alleged actions by Tedros, which have come to light through leaked audio conversations of UN workers, constitute a violation of UN code, which stipulates staff maintain neutrality and refrain from intervening in the affairs of member states. A participant in the leaked discussion also states that Tedros tried to replace the UN’s top coordinator in Ethiopia with someone willing to advance his political objectives.

“They want a direct line from Tigray to the [UN] headquarters,” UN Country Team-Ethiopia staffer Maureen Achieng said in a conversation with her colleague, Dennia Gayle, and Canadian Journalist Jeff Pearce, referring to Tedros and his allies.

Pearce recorded the discussion in Addis Ababa in August of 2021. His digital audio recorder was stolen in the Addis airport as he was returning to Canada, and audio fragments of the conversation were leaked anonymously later that month. 

The contents of the discussion reveal that Tedros has levied his power as WHO Secretary-General to advance the interests of his sectarian allies, the Tigrayan People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), within the United Nations. His actions constitute a direct attempt at undermining the authority of Ethiopia’s sovereign government, which has been ensnared in a brutal civil war with the TPLF since November of 2020.

In June 2021, UN officials arrived in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, and headed straight to the TPLF-controlled Tigray Regional State without making contact with UN staff already on the ground, including the Resident Coordinator, Catherine Sozi. Their goal was to establish a shadow aid network, directly linked with the TPLF, which operated beyond the authority of Ethiopia’s government.

In the leaked audio, which is embedded at the end of this article, Achieng and Gayle allege that Tedros even agitated for the UN to replace Sozi, who oversees the organization’s operations in Ethiopia, “with somebody who will dance to their tune,” rather than follow the official protocol of coordinating with Ethiopia’s elected government.

Tedros answers to UN Secretary-General António Guterres, but Guterres appears to have looked the other way as Tedros violated multiple UN Codes of Conduct, including the Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct, World Health Organization.

The latter states, in Section 3.1, Article 12 thatWHO staff members are required to always act with impartiality and professionalism and to ensure that the expression of personal views and convictions do not compromise the performance of their official duties or the interests of WHO.” 

Tedros not only violated these principles by allegedly using his influence to establish direct communication between the TPLF and United Nations in secret, but by repeatedly voicing opinions about Ethiopia’s civil war in public. Following President Joseph Biden’s unexpected January 10 phone call with Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed Ali, Tedros unleashed a series of condemnations of Abiy’s government, accusing it of “an insult to humanity” for supposedly preventing aid from entering the Tigray region. 

Addis Ababa responded by alleging Tedros has exploited his perch at the UN to advance an ulterior sectarian agenda in explicit “violation of his professional and legal responsibility.” 

“He has been interfering in the internal affairs of Ethiopia, including Ethiopia’s relations with the state of Eritrea,” the Foreign Ministry of Ethiopia stated in a formal complaint to the WHO.

But as the audio leaks demonstrate, Tedros has been engaged in a behind the scenes campaign at the United Nations to legitimize the TPLF – the party that represents his ethnicity in the conflict with Ethiopia – since well before his latest torrent of partisan invective.

Tedros’ conduct at the UN reveals a serious conflict of interest

Tedros is a Tigrayan Ethiopian who rose to prominence within the Tigrayan People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), an ethnic minority party with a paper-thin democratic facade that ruled and plundered Ethiopia for 27 years, beginning in 1991. Having presided over a series of corruption scandals and wars, the TPLF was finally overthrown by popular uprisings in 2018.  

Tedros was 29 when the TPLF seized power under cover of a multi-ethnic coalition in 1991. In time, he became not only its Health Minister, but also its Foreign Minister, making him the TPLF’s third in command before he took over at the WHO in July of 2017.  

In November 2020, while Tedros was still serving the second of a five-year term as WHO’s Director-General, Ethiopian troops loyal to the TPLF attacked their fellow soldiers at the army’s Northern Command in Mek’ele, the capital of the country’s Tigray Region, launching the ongoing civil war. The US appears to have favored the TPLF in its fight against Ethiopia’s government, led by Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed Ali. 

The TPLF never accepted losing power in Addis Ababa and the US clearly regrets losing its puppet in East Africa. As the TPLF moved to restore itself to power through force, its most prominent representative on the world stage applied his influence to help them advance their shared agenda. 

In a leaked conversation with journalist Jeff Pearce, UN staffers Maureen Achieng and Dennia Gayle explained that in early 2021, as Ethiopia’s civil war intensified, Dr. Tedros and his allies dispatched a “surge” of UN staff to create a direct line between UN headquarters and Ethiopia’s Tigray Regional State, where the TPLF were in control.

Maureen Achieng was the International Office of Migration (IOM)’s Chief of Mission in Ethiopia and its Representative to the African Union (AU); the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA); and the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) for an 8-member African trade bloc. Dennia Gayle was the UN Population Fund (UNFPA) Country Representative in Ethiopia. In other words, they were part of the UN team working in Addis that Tedros sidestepped when he created direct links with the TPLF.

According to these former officials, “Emergency Directors” at UN headquarters in New York, Geneva, and Rome sent “Senior Emergency Coordinators” to Ethiopia when the war broke out. The Senior Emergency Coordinators flew into the capital, Addis Ababa, and headed straight to Tigray, where the TPLF were in control. They then returned to UN headquarters in the US and Europe to report back and “engage with donors.” 

Under the influence and direction of Dr. Tedros, the coordinators bypassed the UN Country Team (UNCT) already on the ground in Addis Ababa because it was still working with the Ethiopian government.

“They all descended on Addis against the advice of the Resident Coordinator, and the heads of agencies, and the Government of Ethiopia,” complained Achieng.

As part of the new protocol, Gayle explained that, “the Emergency Coordinators in the region [reported] directly to the Emergency Directors in [UN] headquarters, rather than to us.” 

“In [UN] headquarters,” Achieng emphasized. “Instead of to us. So they want a direct line from Tigray to the [UN] headquarters.” According to Achieng, the UNTC workers already in Addis were “sidelined” because they were “working with the federal government.”

According to Achieng, Tedros’s goal was to paint the UNTC workers in Addis as “compromised,” so that his fellow Under-Secretary Generals in New York, Geneva, and Rome would similarly establish direct links with the TPLF.

Regardless of what was transmitted back and forth on this direct line of communication between TPLF-controlled Tigray and UN headquarters — and it would be interesting to know — its existence clearly violated UN codes of conduct mandating independence from conflict of interest or undue influence.

Section 5.8, Article 93 of the WHO’s code of conduct states:

“While staff members are expected to maintain courteous relations with the governments of WHO Member States, they should not interfere with the internal affairs of these governments. In order to maintain the impartiality required of international civil servants, staff members must remain independent of any authority outside of the organization and their conduct must reflect that independence.”

Who was speaking to whom, and what were they planning to do with the direct line of communication between Tigray, Tedros, and friends at UN headquarters? Most importantly, how has the TPLF been resupplied with munitions, food and medicines, as the militia continues to fight despite its bitter complaints about a blockade? 

That issue has been the elephant in the room, and there are only three conceivable answers: First, smuggling from Sudan; second, smuggling through aid convoys or flights, and finally, smuggling through insecure Ethiopian air space.  

One way or the other, any smuggling would have required some planning with the TPLF. The direct line between Tigray and Tedros at UN headquarters is evidence of master planning.

Neither Achieng nor Gayle are in Ethiopia now. The East African, Reuters, and other outlets reported that the officials were suspended from the UN when the audio leaks began circulating in October 2021. Anonymous sources said that the UN would likely have directed them not to speak to the media, which explains the difficulty in reaching them or anyone who could provide more information on their status. 

That the UN has kept Achieng and Gayle in limbo for so long suggests that the two women have caused considerable alarm in the top tiers of UN officialdom, including Tedros. A UN advisor who preferred to remain unnamed said, “This damaged what they care about most — their reputation, not their performance.”

Tedros exploits global platform to promote TPLF interests

As the de facto coordinator of the global response to coronavirus and the world’s best-known Tigrayan, Tedros has had a global platform to promote TPLF interests on both an ideological and material basis. 

Despite his claims of neutrality, the WHO director has not hesitated to use his position to agitate for his ethnic sect. His Twitter feed, including a collection of his Tweets archived for this report, remarks he has made to the press about the war, and the leaked conversation between UN staffers in Ethiopia included here, are evidence of the WHO director’s abuse of his platform. 

A prime example of Tedros’ open partisanship arrived on New Year’s Day, 2022, when he tweeted an article citing USAID blaming Addis Ababa for the “worsening humanitarian situation in Tigray with continued blockade and forced eviction in Western Tigray.” 

There is no doubt great suffering has taken place in what Tedros calls “Western Tigray.”  What he does not say, however, is that the anguish is the consequence of a long running land dispute between people of the Amhara ethnicity and his own, the Tigrayans. Whichever side one might take, it’s not the simple story Tedros tells.

With regard to “the blockade,” he has failed to mention that the joint investigation of the UN Human Rights and Ethiopian Human Rights Commissions concluded that it “could not confirm deliberate or willful denial of humanitarian assistance to the civilian population in Tigray or the use of starvation as a weapon of war.” 

Among many headlines Tedros has chosen not to tweet was the Human Rights Watch report published on December 9, 2021 and titled, Ethiopia: Tigray Forces Summarily Execute Civilians.

US hawks go to bat for the TPLF

US policymakers have delivered generous political, diplomatic, and military support to the TPLF throughout its 27-year rule in exchange for use of the Ethiopian army, the seventh largest in Africa, as a proxy force on the continent. In 2006, for example, the U.S. persuaded the TPLF to invade Somalia and topple the country’s Islamic Courts government. The intervention opened the floodgates of violence, chaos, and U.S. drone bombing that has continued to this day.

US national security elites are not happy about losing such an amenable partner, and are eager for an opportunity to arrange their return to power. With USAID Administrator and humanitarian hawk Samantha Power leading the charge, Washington has accused Prime Minister Abiy and the Ethiopian army of starving, raping, and even committing genocide against the people of Tigray, a minority of seven million in a population of 115 million. In a February 2021 YouTube interview, Rwandan President Paul Kagame, a longstanding US and TPLF ally, advocated foreign intervention behind a digital #TigrayGenocide banner. 

On Nov. 11 Bloomberg published an op-ed by retired Admiral James Stavridis, a former US Supreme Allied Commander with close ties to the Democratic Party’s foreign policy establishment, entitled, “Ethiopia’s Civil War Is a Problem That U.S. Troops Can Help Solve.” Citing his experience leading various military interventions, Stavridis argued that sending international peacekeepers to Ethiopia “may be the only way to stop the conflict.”

Days later, President Joe Biden announced the deployment of 1000 National Guard Troops to Camp Lemonnier, the US military base in Djibouti. Located on Ethiopia’s eastern border, the base has served as a key point for US power projection in the region.

“They go directly to Tigray, come back from Tigray, engage directly with donors…”

In the leaked audio files, former UN official Maureen Achieng says she complained to UN Resident Coordinator Catherine Sozi about the emergency coordinators heading directly to Tigray after arriving from New York. Sozi officially oversees all UN operations in Ethiopia.

Commenting on the UN’s unusual deployment, Achieng quoted Sozi as saying, “I’ve never seen anything like this. They go directly to Tigray, come back from Tigray, engage directly with donors, and then, you know, write a report.” 

Given that Western governments are the primary donors to most UN rights and relief operations, the “United Nations” in front of agency names is deceptive. It implies that they are fully funded in the UN’s general budget and therefore politically neutral. In fact, the UN High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR), the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), the UN High Commission for Human Rights (OHCHR), UN Women, UN Population Fund, UNICEF, and others are largely dependent on donors among the EU and other Western nations. These Western entities exploit aid to advance their own interests and those of the US.  

The WHO, for example, is 20% funded by assessments of the UN’s 193 member nations—all nations except Vatican City and Palestine—as a percentage of their GDPs. According to WHO’s website, “the remainder of WHO’s financing is in the form of voluntary contributions (VC), largely from Member States as well as from other United Nations organizations, intergovernmental organizations, philanthropic foundations, the private sector, and other sources.”  

The vast majority of these voluntary contributions are from the West; in 2018-2019, the top five contributors were the US ($853 million), the UK ($464 million), the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation ($455 million), the Gates-run GAVI Alliance ($389 million), and Germany ($359 million). “Specified voluntary contributions represent 90.1% of all voluntary contributions,” the WHO notes. “They are tightly earmarked to specific programmatic areas and/or geographical locations and must be spent within a specified timeframe.” 

As Tedros’ predecessor at the WHO, Margaret Chan, told filmmaker Lilian Franck, “only 30% of my budget is predictable funds. The other 70%, I have to take a hat and go around the world to beg for money. And when they give us the money, [it] is highly linked to their preferences, what they like.”

In other words, Western institutions pay for what they please at the WHO. And the West has favored the TPLF since it attacked Ethiopian soldiers at a federal army base during the night of November 3 and 4, 2020 in the opening shot of the secessionist war. Indeed, the West has taken the side of the TPLF in an array of official statements and multiple UN Security Council meetings where Western nations voted to censure or punish the Ethiopian government.

“This comes from Dr. Tedros, of that level, wanting her out…”

“The UN is organized in every country to have one leader that speaks for the entire UN system in a country,” Maureen Achieng remarked in one of her several conversations with journalist Jeff Pearce and her colleague, Dennia Gayle. In Ethiopia, that person was Resident Coordinator Catherine Sozi. 

Achieng and Gayle said that Tedros and top-tier officials allied with him in UN headquarters wanted Sozi fired: “This comes from Dr. Tedros, of that level, wanting her out to replace her with somebody who will dance to their tune.”

On December 24, 2021, Tedros tweeted an incendiary Guardian editorial claiming that genocide was on the horizon in Ethiopia:

Achieng and Gayle commented on what they believed was a war brewing inside the UN about Ethiopia and how UN staff in Ethiopia should do their jobs. So far, UN Resident Coordinator Catherine Sozi has survived the conflict. 

“The push to oust her was tremendous,” said Achieng. “She has survived it, because several key people have said, ‘over our dead bodies,’ including senior people in New York. Very, very senior people who have said, ‘Stop this nonsense.’” 

Brought to you by Europe, the WHO’s first African leader

Catherine Sozi has survived, but so has Tedros. He was serving the second year of his five-year term as WHO Director General when mass uprisings ousted the TPLF and enabled Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed Ali to obtain power. During his third year at the WHO, troops loyal to his TPLF sect launched the ongoing civil war.

Tedros had already begun campaigning for a second term in July 2021 — eight months into the war — when Prime Minister Abiy was elected in a landslide, with his Prosperity Party winning 410 of 436 contested seats in the federal parliament. 

Candidates for WHO Director-General are customarily nominated by their home country, as Tedros was in 2016. However, with the TPLF out of power, Ethiopia refused to nominate him for another five-year term. Indeed, Ethiopian army chief Berhanu Jula, in a televised statement, accused him of seeking to secure weapons and diplomatic support for the TPLF.  

On January 14, the Ethiopian government asked the WHO to investigate Tedros for spreading misinformation about the country, interfering in its internal affairs, and failing to live up to “the integrity and professional expectations required from his office.”

Germany and France nominated Tedros instead, taking a backhanded stand on the side of the TPLF in the war. According to The Lancet, 17 of 28 nations who then supported his nomination were European. The only three African nations that supported him were Kenya, Botswana, and Rwanda, despite his distinction as the first African to head the WHO. 

With nominations now closed, Tedros is running unopposed. He will be re-elected pro forma, at the May 2022 World Health Assembly, for another 5-year term, barring unforeseen circumstances. 

Concerning his role in the Ethiopian conflict, Tedros has insisted that he “is on the side of peace.”

Audio and a full transcript of the leaked conversation between Jeff Pearce, Maureen Achieng, and Dennia Gayle is below:

 

Maureen Achieng: The UN is organized in every country to have one leader that speaks for the entire UN system in a country. 

Jeff Pearce: OK. 

Maureen Achieng: So the person we’re making reference to is this person, who is the Resident Coordinator.

Jeff Pearce: OK. And she knows, and she is a person that could . . . but she’s under a great deal of pressure? OK.

Maureen Achieng: [They wanted her] fired. 

Dennia Gayle: [They wanted her] fired.  [CROSSTALK]

Maureen Achieng: They wanted her out. [CROSSTALK]

Dennia Gayle: [They wanted her] fired.

Maureen Achieng: And this comes from . . .

Jeff Pearce: Still? Or . . .

[CROSSTALK]

Maureen Achieng: This comes from . . . still, but . . .

[CROSSTALK]

Maureen Achieng: Still, and this comes from Dr. Tedros, of that level, wanting her out to replace her with somebody who will dance to their tune.

Dennia Gayle: Exactly. And you know what they did, they managed to convince that all the Emergency Coordinators from the different agencies that came in to work in Tigray, they wanted them to report—not to report to us. So, sideline the UN here, because we were not singing to the tune of what they wanted.

Jeff Pearce: How could they even. . . ?  Say that again. I want to wrap my head around this. Say that again exactly.

Dennia Gayle: You know that because of the scale-up of the humanitarian interventions in the north, many of the agencies had to bring in additional support. We call them “surge,” which is additional technical expertise to be posted in that region. And many had to appoint what we call Senior Emergency Coordinators. Well, they have . . . 

Maureen Achieng: All our headquarters have Emergency Directors. So they, they all descended on Addis against the advice of the Resident Coordinator . . .

Dennia Gayle: And the head of . . .

Maureen Achieng: And the heads of agencies. And the Government of Ethiopia.

Jeff Pearce: OK, we’re not naming names here, so I take it I can still use this now. This is, this—I can still use this in terms of them trying to sideline the UN and make them report? Yes, no? You guys are trading eyes.

[INAUDIBLE sounds like: We have to think. ]

Dennia Gayle: Was it not part of the scale-up protocols?

Maureen Achieng: Yeah. Yeah.

Dennia Gayle: It was part of the scale-up protocol that says that the Emergency Coordinators in the region report directly to the Emergency Directors, rather than to us, in [UN] headquarters.

Maureen Achieng: In [UN] headquarters instead of to us. So they want a direct line from Tigray to the [UN] headquarters. Addis, the reps in Addis, should be sidelined because we’re working with the federal government. We’re more sympathetic.

Jeff Pearce: You got to let me use that. You got to let me use that. That’s a huge, that’s a huge—you want people to understand this, let me use that. Are we agreed?

Maureen Achieng: I’m OK with that.

Dennia Gayle: Yeah.

Jeff Pearce: OK, good. Tell me . . .

Maureen Achieng: Because again, it’s the . . . it’s what they want in [UN] headquarters, and it’s what Dr. Tedros and others like him have succeeded in getting his fellow Under Secretaries General to agree to, that the UN in Addis is compromised. Let’s have Senior Coordinators in Tigray who report directly to New York and Geneva and Rome.

Jeff Pearce: What this tells me in context is, there is a power struggle going on within the UN. This explains why we ran into sources in Mek’ele, who told us about UN senior officials interfering with national exams and coordinating with the TPLF. So this is part of that puzzle. There’s a power struggle going on with the UN in terms of how you guys can get—do your jobs. Is that fair?

Maureen Achieng: That is absolutely correct. Yeah. Absolutely.

Jeff Pearce: OK. You guys are in big trouble. Wow. Paperwork, again, can somebody supply paperwork to back this up? There must have been memos. There’re always memos in a bureaucracy. Somebody had to write this down to say “we should be doing this instead of this,” and they would have sent it to multiple people. There’s got to be a paper trail.

Maureen Achieng: On the discussion to marginalize representatives in Addis, I don’t think there’s paperwork.

Jeff Pearce: How is that possible?

Maureen Achieng: Or if there is paperwork, it hasn’t got to our level. It’s been discussed by . . . 

Dennia Gayle: At that level.

Maureen Achieng: Our . . .

Jeff Pearce: Were you part of these discussions?

Maureen Achieng and Dennia Gayle: No. That’s the whole idea to. . . They didn’t even invite us.

Jeff Pearce: So how do you even know that this is true?

Maureen Achieng: Because it’s coming from the Resident Coordinator, and she is saying, “I have never seen anything like this—that Emergency Directors come from New York, and they don’t even engage with their representatives on the ground. They go directly to Tigray, come back from Tigray, engage directly with donors, and then, you know, write a report.” 

Jeff Pearce: All right. 

Maureen Achieng: There’s been a strident push for senior representatives in Mek’ele and that they should be given sufficient latitude for action. There should not be interference from Addis, meaning us. Because if it’s coming from us, we’re going to be sympathetic with the federal government and we will perhaps try and steer it in another direction.

Jeff Pearce: What you’re talking about, though, amounts to a conspiracy within the UN.

Maureen Achieng: Of course it is.

Dennia Gayle: Yes, yes. To sideline us.

Maureen Achieng: So the only . . . the safest place to be right now is on Kwesi’s side. If you’re a Kwesi and you’re bashing the government, you’re safe. If you’re Maureen or Dennia, or these other friends who are not here, we can’t talk at meetings anymore. We go to meetings, we keep quiet. Especially now, because of the pandemic, we are in this virtual format of meetings. We don’t know who’s listening.

Jeff Pearce: What is this—why would this guy—this guy’s not Ethiopian.

Maureen Achieng: No.

Jeff Pearce: So I mean what is his interest here? Why even go to bat for them?

Maureen Achieng: If you are, and I believe you are, Jeff, familiar with how the TPLF works—they recruit people, they have their networks within the UN system. Whether Kwesi is being paid additional money by the TPLF, I have no idea, but he’s pretty emotional where TPLF is concerned.

Jeff Pearce: Is it possible he’s just a true believer. Maybe he’s just not paid off, but a true believer in their cause. What’s your take? What do you think?

Maureen Achieng: But he also has a friend from that region.

Dennia Gayle: I don’t know how true it is, [CROSSTALK] but they said [CROSSTALK].

Maureen Achieng: He’s got an Ethiopian girlfriend and rumor is that she’s from there, but I don’t think that’s what motivates him.

Jeff Pearce: Yeah, let’s not go there. I don’t like doing that to people. God, we need . . . and all right, second question is . . . you guys, you just gave me a peach of a quote, but second hand. You said your superior official said she’s never seen anything like this. 

I would love to run with that, but the thing is also, we’ve got to find a way to protect her. You gotta go talk to your friend. In actual fact, the best way to protect her is to talk about her. I do believe that. If I actually use her name but talk about her in the third person that could actually insulate her, because she could legitimately point and say, “I didn’t talk to this guy. They’re talking about me, they’re not talking to me.” Which would take the pressure off.

Maureen Achieng: I would recommend that you go to the UN Ethiopia Twitter handle and look at things she has posted and draw from that.

Jeff Pearce: Well, if she’s putting out stuff on Twitter, that’s not very a wise course of action to do, if she’s putting out controversial things on Twitter.

Maureen Achieng: No, she’s not putting out controversial things. There’s been a few recent statements. There’s one on the perception of the UN in Ethiopia having taken a hit and you know.

Jeff Pearce: What’s her Twitter handle? Do you know?

Maureen Achieng: UN, it’s UN Ethiopia.

Dennia Gayle: UN Ethiopia, I think.

Jeff Pearce: OK. Would you please talk to your friend and talk to her about what we’re doing and at the very least give the woman a heads up so she knows this is coming, or do you want to go that far?

Maureen Achieng: I’m not sure.

Jeff Pearce: Does she trust you?

Maureen Achieng: Oh yeah. But . . . 

Maureen Achieng and Dennia Gayle: But she’s under a lot of . . . she’s under serious [CROSSTALK].

Dennia Gayle: A lot of it. A lot of it.

Maureen Achieng: I don’t . . . I’m not sure she would want to be a part of something like this.

Dennia Gayle: Yes, yes. She’s under. There’s a tremendous force being orchestrated to figure out how to get her out of here and it’s…  

Maureen Achieng: And they have failed so far because. . .  I met with a senior government representative who said, “We are not going to watch her get kicked out of here. We know they want her out because she’s an African.”

Jeff Pearce: I am telling you straight up, the most honest thing, the most best thing you could do for her is: 

(a) tell her you’re talking to me, 

(b) tell her that the best way I could protect her and actually help you is actually talk about the campaign to oust her and name her. And then watch the fur fly, because then they’ll go, “Holy shit, Pearce knows what’s going on. How the hell does he know what’s going on?” 

And that will make them back off her for awhile.I can’t promise it would be indefinite, but I can tell you that she would be safe for a limited period of time because the shit will hit the fan that . . .  Once you, once you drag them into the light and say, this is what they’re trying to do, that actually . . .  because I told you in our phone conversation, I’ve been a whistleblower. They put my name in it and they didn’t touch me because they went, “Well, why would his name be in it if he actually spoke to the sources?”

That’s the best way to protect your friend and your colleague. And, frankly, if there’s a concerted effort to oust her, I say, go public with it, but that’s got to be her. That’s got to be . . .  I don’t want to hurt this person. I don’t know this person. You should coordinate with her to say, “Be a part of this and because it could help you.” And I mean that sincerely.

If you need me to talk to her, I’ll talk to her. I’ll deal with her the same way. If she wants to talk to me, anything that she says to me can be as an unnamed source, same rules. But it would be good to get her permission . . . to say, “Can we use your name because you’re obviously being targeted here.”

Maureen Achieng: OK, two things, Jeff. One, the push to oust her was tremendous. She has survived it, because several key people have said, “over our dead bodies,” including senior people in New York. Very, very senior people who have said, “Stop this nonsense.” So it’s a certain group of donors and . . . 

Jeff Pearce: They’re waiting. They’re waiting. They’re waiting. They’ll be back. They’ll be back.

Maureen Achieng: So that is, one, I think she has survived it. But, second, we all have different thresholds for, you know, discomfort.

Jeff Pearce: Of course.

Maureen Achieng: If I was in that situation, I would be looking for Jeff Pearce. I don’t know that that is her case. So my proposal . . .

Jeff Pearce: I perfectly understand. I’m saying put the proposal . . .

Maureen Achieng: My proposal would be, her contact information is public. If you go to the UN Ethiopia website, her number is there. Call her or email her and say, “I’m hearing A, B and C about what’s happening in Ethiopia. Would you be willing to speak with me off the record or on the record?”

Jeff Pearce: She has no reason to trust me, and I wouldn’t blame her. Given the way that the other media have treated her, unless she’s familiar with what I do.

Maureen Achieng: She is very familiar with you. She follows you and she shares your tweets with me. I share your tweets with her. She knows you very well.

Jeff Pearce: Because given how . . . let me double-check the recording on the . . .

END OF AUDIO 

(Riva Enteen provided assistance in editing this report.) 

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