Ethiopia’s army firm ‘transported arms to Somalia’ - Whisper Eye

Ethiopia’s army firm ‘transported arms to Somalia’

Ethiopia’s military-run conglomerate Metals and Engineering Corporation (Metec) is a hot topic in the Horn of Africa nation after a TV documentary alleged it was involved in illegal arms trading.

It was broadcast on state-run television ETV and other government-affiliated media just hours after the former head of the firm, Maj Gen Kinfe Dagnew, was arrested as he tried to flee to neighboring Sudan.

The documentary alleges that among other things, Metec was involved in transporting arms to Somalia.

Suleiman Dedefo, Ethiopia’s former ambassador to Djibouti, told the programme that in 2016 Metec allegedly purchased two old ships from Ethiopian Shipping Lines to demolish and use the parts as scrap metal, but instead renovated and used them to transport weapons and other contraband between Iran and Somalia.

He said that he wrote letters to several government institutions including Ethiopia’s Foreign Affairs Ministry, about the allegations, but received no response. His letter is circulating on social media.

On Monday, Ethiopia’s Attorney General Berhanu Tsegaye announced that vast corruption had been unveiled at Metec after a five-month investigation.

He said Metec had made foreign purchases, totalling $2bn (£1.5bn), without any bidding processes.

As a result, 27 officials of the firm are now under arrest, he added. Neither Maj Gen Kinfe nor officials at Metec have commented on the allegations.

The arrests are the biggest crackdown on corruption in Ethiopia, which is undergoing massive reforms since Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed came to power seven months ago.

In August, Mr Abiy took away work contracted to Metec to build Ethiopia’s Grand Renaissance Dam – a massive infrastructure project to dam the Nile River – and gave it to foreign firms.