Ethiopia minister, others arrested on corruption charges as activists praise move

Minister Fenti arrested in Ethiopia on corruption charges.

ADDIS ABABA: Ethiopian activists have praised efforts by the government to crackdown on corruption in the East African country. They said the arrest of a minister and 11 other people show that Ethiopia is pushing forward on efforts to help end the rampant corruption within government and business in the country.

“I believe this will turn out for the better because we need to clean up our government,” one activist, who also works in finance, told on Saturday. For him, the arrests are “the beginning of a new Ethiopia free from the politics and past craziness and greed that had been part of the country for far too long.”

Businesses in the region regularly complain of corruption as an obstacle to their work. Transparency International ranked Ethiopia 113 out of 176 nations worldwide in its 2012 perception of corruption index, where No. 1 is considered least corrupt.

That ranking puts Ethiopia above most nations in the Horn of Africa and east Africa regions, although Rwanda is ranked 50.

Melaku Fenta, a senior ruling party member and director general of the revenue and customs authority with the rank of minister, was arrested on Friday alongside two other officials from the authority, government spokesman Shimeles Kemal said.

“They were under investigation on suspicion of corrupt practices,” Shimeles told Reuters, without giving details.

The spokesman later told that “we will not back down in the face of corruption no matter who is involved.”

The move is the highest profile arrest of any official in the country on corruption charges and has activists praising the government’s efforts to curtail illegal activity within the government sphere.

“We are long void of a proper justice system and policing, so hopefully this will help make things better and progress the country toward goals set,” Monique Mariam told For her, as a former consultant for the government, “corruption was widespread and dangerously high, so this is a great move to start to end it.”

Melaku is the most high profile suspect to be arrested on corruption charges since Siye Abraha, a former defense minister who was released in 2007 after six years behind bars. However, he was already out of government when arrested.


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