#NewsAlert: Formal apology from PM Abiy sees AfDB return Intr’l staff, resume operations in Ethiopia

Addis Abeba – The African Development Bank (AfDB) said its has “received formal apologies” from Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed “on behalf of the Government of Ethiopia,” resulting in the Bank’s decision to return all international staff and resume its normal operations in Ethiopia.  

“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.  All international staff of the African Development Bank will now return to Ethiopia,” the Bank said.

Commenting for the first time, the Bank also said the “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”, but refrained from explaining the exact circumstances surrounding the reports of millions of dollars in missing funds.  

Without providing further detail, PM Abiy has posted on X earlier that “our partnership with the African Development Bank Group is essential to Ethiopia’s food sovereignty endeavors. We remain committed to strengthening our relations through the support of my brother President of the Bank.”

AfDB withdraw all its international staff from Ethiopia with immediate effect as of 19 December 2023 after two of its staff members based in Addis Abeba were unlawfully arrested, physically assaulted, and detained for many hours by elements of the security forces.

On 16 November 2023, the bank admitted the physical assault against two of its staff members on 31 October in what it said was “a very serious diplomatic incident.”

However, despite the bank’s earlier request dating 06 November 2023 for a full and transparent investigation into the incident, and subsequent engagements with Ethiopian authorities, the assessment by the high-level delegation “indicates that the situation is not yet resolved in any satisfactory manner, nor does it provide full confidence that all our employees feel safe and secure to carry out their duties and move around the country without fear of harassment” leading to its decision to withdraw all international staff.

The President of the African Development Bank, Dr. Akinwumi Adesina, has since traveled to Addis Abeba and held meetings with PM Abiy from 29 to 31 December 2023, the Bank said today.  “The meetings were fruitful and have brought a resolution to the matter.”

“The Bank has subsequently received 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,” AfDB said in a statement.

It also said that it has “received firm commitment by 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.”

Last month Dr. Akinwumi had cautioned that “while the Bank appreciates the excellent relations it has with Ethiopia until this egregious incident, its continued operations and future presence in the country could be negatively affected if the incident is not fully resolved.”

The incident drew criticism and calls for accountability from foreign governments including the US an the US. AS

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