from ADANE BIKILA in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
ADDIS ABABA, (CAJ News) – THE African Development Bank’s (AfDB) withdrawal of its international staff in Ethiopia is a new twist in the fallout between the financier and the continent’s most iconic country.
The withdrawal of the staff on Wednesday is the aftermath of the arrest, alleged assault and detention for hours without charge or any official explanation on two of the bank’s international members of staff at the end of October.
AfDB denounced this as breach of diplomatic protocol and is not convinced with the way the government has handled the issue after the bank communicated with the government through an official note verbale on November 6, requesting a full and transparent investigation into the incident.
AfDB President, Dr Akinwumi Adesina, also sent a high-level delegation of officials led by its Senior Vice President to Addis Ababa on November 22 to engage with senior Ethiopian authorities on the matter and to meet with bank staff in the Ethiopia Office also in the capital.
Adesina said the assessment from the AfDB delegation indicates that the situation is still not yet resolved in a satisfactory manner.
“It also does not provide full confidence that all the African Development Bank’s employees feel safe and secure to carry out their duties and move around the country without fear of harassment,” he said.
Adesina added, “The African Development Bank remains particularly concerned that the Ethiopian government has, to date, not shared with the Bank any report, or details of investigations into the incident.”
According to him, the October incident continues causing anxiety across the AfDB Group and especially among staff at the Ethiopia country office.
“The incident has also raised concerns among the Bank’s shareholders, other multilateral development banks, international financial institutions, the broader diplomatic community, and other stakeholders.
The office in Ethiopia will remain open under an Officer-in-Charge.
Locally- recruited staff will continue their work and remain in the full employment of the bank.
AfDB disclosed its international staff in Ethiopia will work remotely outside the country “until the findings of the government investigations into the grave incident are transparently shared with the Bank, and full details of the measures taken to bring the guilty parties to book are made public.”
As of September 30, 2023, AfDB’s ongoing portfolio in Ethiopia comprising 22 projects, totalled US$1,24 billion.
– CAJ News