African Development Bank and Ethiopia Resolve to Normalize Relations

In the aftermath of a grave diplomatic incident where two international staff members of the African Development Bank Group, stationed at the Bank’s Country Office in Ethiopia, were subjected to severe assault by Ethiopian government security agents, the African Development Bank took formal action by filing a complaint with the Ethiopian government.

Despite a high-level mission dispatched by the Bank in November 2023 for direct talks with senior government officials, the issue remained unresolved, raising persistent concerns about the safety and security of the Bank’s personnel, as well as the adherence to diplomatic immunities and the Host Country Agreement.

As a result of the prolonged impasse, the African Development Bank decided to withdraw all its international staff from Ethiopia. Seeking a resolution, Dr. Akinwumi Adesina, the President of the African Development Bank, personally engaged in discussions with Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed during a visit to Addis Ababa from December 29 to 31, 2023.

These meetings proved fruitful, resulting in a resolution to the matter. The Prime Minister extended formal apologies on behalf of the Ethiopian government, assuring the Bank of the safety and security of its personnel, and pledging to uphold the rights, privileges, and diplomatic immunities of the staff, in addition to honoring the Host Country Agreement.

Moreover, the Ethiopian government committed to conducting a thorough investigation into the assault incident and promised to share the formal report with the African Development Bank, ensuring full accountability for those involved. Additionally, the government pledged full cooperation with the Bank in investigating the matter of missing funds intended for transfer.

Expressing satisfaction with the strong leadership and commitment demonstrated by Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, the African Development Bank acknowledged the resolution of the impasse and highlighted the historically positive relationship with the Ethiopian government. The Bank, with an existing portfolio of $1.24 billion covering 22 projects in Ethiopia, will now resume normal operations in the country, as all international staff members are set to return.

The African Development Bank expressed gratitude to the general public, the international community, the Bank’s shareholders, and its staff, management, and Boards of Directors for their understanding and support during the incident. Looking ahead, the Bank anticipates a revitalized partnership with the Government of Ethiopia.

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