AU chief defends WHO from Trump's criticism

Addis Ababa (AFP) –


The chairman of the African Union Commission on Wednesday defended the World Health Organization (WHO) and its leadership from attacks by US President Donald Trump, who on Tuesday threatened to cut funding for the UN body.

"Surprised to learn of a campaign by the US govt against WHO's global leadership," Moussa Faki Mahamat said in a Twitter post.

"The African Union fully supports WHO and Dr Tedros," he added, referring to the WHO's director, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, an Ethiopian.

Faki was later joined by Rwandan President Paul Kagame and Namibian President Hage Geingob, who took to Twitter with messages of their own supporting the WHO.

Speaking to reporters Tuesday, Trump said the WHO "seems very biased toward China" and that his government "will look at ending funding".

The US is the WHO's biggest funding source.

Trump specifically criticised the WHO's advice against curtailing international travel to curb the coronavirus, which first spread from China.

As the pandemic worsens in the United States, China has come under mounting criticism from US Republicans over its response, and Trump has expressed doubts about the accuracy of Chinese data for cases and deaths.

But Trump, who announced travel restrictions on China in January, has himself taken flak for initially downplaying the virus, which he likened to ordinary flu.

He claimed the United States had the disease under control before later accepting it was a national emergency.

In his Twitter post Wednesday, Faki called for international cooperation in the response to the pandemic.

"The focus should remain on collectively fighting #Covid19 as a united global community," Faki said. "The time for accountability will come."

Rwanda's Kagame sounded a similar note in his post.

"Let's focus on the fight against this pandemic," he wrote. "Save us too much politics Africa does not need it. Who does?"