ADDIS ABABA (Kaab TV) – The African Development Bank (AfDB) has broken its silence on the recent attack and detention of two of its staff members in Ethiopia, revealing a complex situation that led to a diplomatic row between the AfDB and Ethiopian officials.
On October 31, 2023, two AfDB staff based in Addis Ababa were unlawfully arrested, physically assaulted, and detained by Ethiopian security forces, sparking a diplomatic incident.
The Ethiopian Prime Minister, Abiy Ahmed Ali, and Finance Minister Ahmed Shide intervened after an argument arose between Ethiopian Ministry of Finance officials and Abdul Kamara, the AfDB’s Ethiopia Country Manager.
“We are pleased that the Prime Minister of Ethiopia immediately acted when he learnt of the incident, ordered the immediate release of the affected staff, and promised to order an immediate investigation into the incident,” stated the AfDB.
The incident unfolded when plain-clothed armed men stopped the vehicle transporting AfDB Ethiopia Country Manager, Abdul Kamara, shortly after he left his office.
Kamara and another Bank official were detained, assaulted, and interrogated before being released later.
How it unfolded
According to anonymous AfDB sources, the dispute began when the AfDB couldn’t confirm a USD 5.2 million deposit into a bank account associated with the organization, representing Ethiopia’s annual contribution to the Bank.
Kamara, a senior Senegalese economist, claimed the account was not authentic, leading to the altercation.
Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and Finance Minister Ahmed Shide intervened, meeting with Kamara, who still bore scars from the physical assault.
The attackers were reportedly linked to the Ethiopian Ministry of Finance and the national intelligence.
In response, the AfDB lodged a formal complaint with the Ethiopian authorities, expressing concern over the gravity of the incident.
“For their part, the government has formally acknowledged our complaint, recognised the gravity of the incident, and reassured us that all those involved in breaking the law will be thoroughly investigated and brought to justice, ensuring transparency and full accountability,” the Bank said in a statement on Thursday.
The incident not only stirred diplomatic tensions but also instilled fear among AfDB employees in Ethiopia.
While Ethiopian media reported Kamara and some Bank staff leaving the country, the AfDB stated that the Ethiopian government reassured them that staff in Ethiopia would continue to enjoy their rights, privileges, and diplomatic immunities.
“Furthermore, the government has also reassured the African Development Bank that its staff in Ethiopia and those traveling to the country on mission will continue to enjoy full respect of their rights, privileges and diplomatic immunities under the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations as well as the African Development Bank’s Host Country Agreement with the Government of Ethiopia,” the AfDB statement added.