Ethiopia toughens crack down on corruption following mass protests

Source: Xinhua| 2017-08-16 01:17:21|Editor: yan
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ADDIS ABABA, Aug. 15 (Xinhua) -- In what appears to be a concrete answer to the preoccupations of the public, the Ethiopian government is undertaking its large scale anti-corruption investigation and arrest during the past few weeks.

During the crack down, 56 senior government officials, businessperson and middlemen were arrested in less than a month.

The Ethiopian Ministry of Government Communication Affairs Office has indicated that the large-scale anti-corruption investigation and arrest of high-profile individuals is part of the Ethiopian government's reform agenda, which was started at the end of 2016 following mass protests in different parts of the country.

The Ethiopian government has since then stressed bad-governance and corruption among the major reasons for the preoccupations of the public that rocked the east African country back in late 2016.

Even though Ethiopians have witnessed their country's economy growing as one of the fastest economies in the world with double-digit economic growth for consecutive years, challenges attributed to bad-governance and corruption have led to violence during the last quarter of 2016.

The Ethiopian government, in its response to the public anger, had reshuffled majority of its senior officials and ministers soon after the declaration of the state of emergency back in October last year.

The Ethiopian House of Peoples' Representatives (Ethiopian Parliament), soon after the violence, had also endorsed the Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn's proposal of the appointment of new cabinet members.

The prime minister, who had promised the general public to reshuffle his government, has introduced new cabinet members, of which only 9 of the ministers in the 30-member cabinet remained in their previous positions.

The government reshuffle process was soon followed by training government officials on good-governance and leadership.

Desalegn, in his message to the first batch of 470 high-level leadership cadres, stressed that leaders have to work hard to address concerns of good governance with the help of the ongoing reform process, which is designed to give a new impetus to the country's aspiration to realize targets in its second five-year Growth and Transformation Plan (GTP-II).

The Ethiopian government, which had promised to take the reform process further with large scale investigations, started the arrest of high-level government officials and their associates last month.

As the large-scale investigation is still underway in the east African country, the number of suspected government officials and their associates could still rise. Investigators also froze the assets of 210 individuals and 15 companies that have link with the recently arrested individuals.

Majority of the 56 defendants have so far appeared before the Ethiopian court, including former Deputy Minister of Finance and Economic Cooperation, Alemayehu Gujo, the former Manager of Addis Ababa Roads Authority, Fekade Haile, and former head of Ethiopian Roads Authority Zayid WoldeGebrel.

Ethiopian roads authority Communications Director, Samson Wondimu, is the latest Ethiopian government official detained on Friday in connection with the large scale anti-corruption investigation in Ethiopia's modern history.

Other senior government officials from the Ethiopian Roads Authority, the Addis Ababa Roads Authority, the Ethiopian Sugar Corporation and some foreign nationals were also arrested during the crack down.