On Friday, the African Development Bank Group (AfDB) announced that it “will resume its normal operations” in Ethiopia. The decision followed what the bank termed “productive meetings” between Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and AfDB President Akinwumi Adesina.
The AfDB president visited the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, between December 29 and December 31, conducting a series of meetings related to a diplomatic incident that occurred in November 2023. The bank revealed that two expatriate staff members, possessing diplomatic immunity, were “severely assaulted by security agents of the Government of Ethiopia.”
In response, the bank withdrew its international staff from Ethiopia and filed a formal complaint with the Ethiopian government.
Subsequent reports from overseas-based Ethiopian media outlets, relying on sources within the country, indicated that the security forces responsible for assaulting AfDB staff were the Minister for Finance’s bodyguards. The incident allegedly involved funds intended for deposit in the bank. In a news update published on this Friday, the AfDB confirmed that the incident was related to “missing funds,” stating that “the [Ethiopian] Government committed to fully cooperate with the Bank on investigations into the issue of missing funds that were to have been transferred to the Bank.”
The bank had been addressing the matter with the Ethiopian government before the withdrawal of international staff, it was disclosed.
“While a high-level mission dispatched by the Bank visited Ethiopia in November 2023 for direct engagement and discussions with senior government officials, the matter remained unresolved. Concerns remained about the security, safety, and the protection of the rights, privileges and diplomatic immunities of the Bank’s staff and the respect for the Host Country Agreement with the Bank.
Consequently, the African Development Bank withdrew all its international staff from Ethiopia,” it said.
Regarding the decision to resume normal operations in Ethiopia, the bank said, “In light of the productive meetings between Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and the President of the African Development Bank, Dr. Adesina, and the formal apologies of the government and the firm commitments of the Prime Minister to address the issues related to the incident, the African Development Bank will now resume its normal operations in Ethiopia.”
The bank also stated that all international staff will return to Ethiopia although it did not announce a specific timeline. Additionally, the bank disclosed that it received a “formal apologies from the Prime Minister on behalf of the Government of Ethiopia, with firm assurances of the security and safety of the Bank and its personnel, the respect for the rights, privileges, and diplomatic immunities of staff and the Host Country Agreement of the Government of Ethiopia with the African Development Bank.”
The government of Ethiopia is yet to conclude its investigation and make its findings public.
“The Bank further received a firm commitment from the Government to investigate and share the formal report of the investigations into the incident with the Bank and to ensure full accountability for all involved,” it stated.
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