Engineer Simegnew Bekele, Ethiopian Grand Renaissance Dam Project Manager and chief Engineer Assassinated

Project manager of the Ethiopian Grand Renaissance Dam, Engineer Simegnew Bekele, is found dead in his car and it is widely believed to be an assassination.

Engineer Simegnew Bekele
Engineer Simegnew Bekele
Source : EBC

July 26,2018

Engineer Simegnew Bekele, project manager, and Chief engineer of Ethiopian Grand Renaissance Dam is found dead under circumstances that seem to be rather a meticulously orchestrated assassination.

Ethiopian Federal Police confirmed that Engineer Simegnew was shot dead in his vehicle in Meskel Square area, in the capital Addis Ababa.

Based on information from the Commissioner, Jemal Zeinu, who is cited by Ethiopian Broadcasting Corporation (EBC), Engineer Simegnew was found dead behind the wheel of his V 8 Toyota around 8:20 a. m. local time just off Meskel Square Avenue.

The federal police chief added that a handgun was found on his right hand. “Forensic evidence and information from eyewitnesses is collected to determine the causes of his death and that result of the investigation will be made public once it is completed.” added, Jemal Zeinu.

Asked as to when the Engineer came to Addis Ababa, the police commissioner said they will have to speak to the family. However, he said that the engineer was seen this morning around 7:30 a. ms local time and that he was also in the office briefly earlier in the morning.

Other sources say that the Engineer had an appointment with journalists, likey to be on the progress of the Grand Dam project.

In a meeting with lecturers from across the country last week, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed claimed the project might need up to ten years before it is completed which is quite opposite to what his predecessors have been saying.

The body of Engineer Simegnew is currently at Paulos hospital for post-mortem examination.

The engineer who was born in Maksegnit, Gonder region, western Ethiopia, in 1964 ( 1957 Ethiopian Calendar) has served for more than 32 years in the Ethiopian Electric Power Corporation, according to a report by Ethiopian Broadcasting Corporation.

Apart from this lead role in Ethiopia’s $5 billion dollars worth mega dam project, he was in charge of Glgel Gibe I and Gilgel Gibe II hydroelectric power generation projects which were completed a few years ago.

News of his death has shocked the country and has left many Ethiopians wondering as to how that can happen.

Prime minister Abiy Ahmed was told about the news soon after his arrival in the United States where he is meeting Ethiopians in three cities this weekend.

“PM Abiy is saddened & utterly shocked to hear the death of Eng. Simegnew Bekele. PM Abiy received this heart wrenching news with great sorrow as he arrives in the US. Police is conducting investigation. PM Abiy offers his condolences to his family & the Ethiopian people…”, tweeted his chief of staff, Fitsum Arega.

Similarly, president of the country, Mulatu Teshome, members of the Ethiopian parliament and the ruling coalition, EPRDF, expressed deep sorrow over the death of engineer Simegnew Bekele.

What many Ethiopians believe to be an assassination has caused outrage. Residents of Bahir Dar took to the street condemning the killing of Engineer Simegnew and demanded to know the causes of it. Similarly, an angry crowd in the capital is demanding an answer to the tragedy.

Analysts who expressed their views on social media seem to indicate the possibility that the Engineer is assassinated by forces working to reverse the political change in the country. However, there are also views that seem to point to the possibility that the killing might have also been carried out by radical ethnic-nationalists forces who seem to have relatively free mobility in the country in recent months due to reform measures taken to “broaden the political space in the country.” This week a pregnant woman was killed in Dembi Dollo, Oromo region of Ethiopia allegedly under the watch of law enforcement bodies. Oromo regional state announced this week that it seized individual and group assault weapons, including a machine gun, as they make their way to the capital Addis Ababa.

The Grand Renaissance Dam project caused controversy with Egypt for several years so much so that there was a war of words at some point. Before relation with Egypt improved following prime minister Abiy Ahmed’s visit to Cairo early last month, there was even a time when Ethiopia accused Egypt of meddling in the internal affairs of Ethiopia.

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