BEVERLY HILLS, August 04, (THEWILL) – Ethiopia has arrested its State Minister for Finance, Alemayehu Gujo, on suspicion of embezzlement of government funds.
Friday’s arrest followed the detention of more than 40 officials from the Ministry of Finance and Economic Cooperation, the Capital’s Housing Development Agency, the state-run Ethiopian Sugar Corporation, and the Ethiopian Roads Authority.
The arrest was part of an anti-graft drive that the government said has led to dozens of arrests in the last two weeks while Gujo is the highest-ranking official to have been detained so far in the sweep that has also involved business owners.
In an emergency session, Ethiopia’s House of People’s Representatives lifted Gujo’s immunity from prosecution as charges brought so far include embezzlement and the siphoning off of billions of birr.
“A warrant was then issued and led to his arrest,” the state-run Ethiopian Broadcasting Corporation (EBC) said, citing the Attorney General’s Office.
Zayed Woldegabriel, Director General of the Ethiopian Roads Authority, was also detained on Friday,
The anti-corruption drive is partly a response to unrest that wrecked the Horn of Africa country in 2015 and 2016 and which was sparked by a scheme to development and expand the capital, Addis Ababa.
The protests turned into broader anti-government demonstrations over politics and human rights abuses while the violence included attacks on businesses, many of them foreign-owned, including farms growing flowers for export.
The government subsequently acknowledged that maladministration and abuse of power was rife and that it needed to broaden political participation. On Friday, it lifted a 10-month state of emergency that was imposed in the wake of the unrest.