With the sole abstaining vote cast by himself, parliament at its extraordinary session Friday voted to strip State Minister of Finance and Economic Cooperation Alemayehu Gujo of immunity. Following that, federal police took him into custody as a suspect in a grand corruption case.
The state minister was given a chance to speak by House Speaker Abadula Gemeda after Attorney General Getachew Ambaye read out corruption charges against him.
“I whole-heartedly support the government’s move to fight corruption. While I was serving the public and the government over the past nine years, I have nothing to regret about,” Alemayehu told the house.
He added: “I will cooperate with law enforcement personnel to establish the truth since I firmly believe that the justice system we have put in place works for everyone”.
He, however, underscored the fact that the issues (charges brought against him) would have been more transparent and better articulated had action been taken at political and administrative forums earlier.
In a related development, a similar fate has befallen the former director general of the Ethiopian Roads Authority (ERA), Zaid Woldegabriel, who is currently serving as Ethiopia’s representative to the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO).
State Minister Alemayehu is the highest-ranking official to have been detained so far during the current corruption crackdown. It is to be recalled that more than 47 businesspeople as well as “senior” government officials, notably from the Ministry of Finance and Economic Cooperation, the Addis Ababa City Housing Development Agency, the state-run Ethiopian Sugar Corporation, the Ethiopian Roads Authority and the Addis Ababa City Roads Authority (AARCA) have been taken into custody on suspicion of corruption.
By Yonas Abiye