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Ethiopia freezes bank accounts of companies 'financing TPLF'

Abiy Ahmed.

Ethiopia's President Sahle-Work Zewde and Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed during an event to honour the national defence forces in Addis Ababa, on November 17, 2020. The Ethiopian government has frozen bank accounts of businesses linked to leaders of the Tigray People’s Liberation Front. PHOTO | EDUARDO SOTERAS | AFP

Summary

  • The Federal Attorney General says there is evidence that the 34 business entities are involved in financing the "Junta” in Tigray.
  • The freezing of the companies' accounts comes two weeks after the government took action against the TPLF-led Tigray Special Forces.
  • Prime Minister Abiy launched the offensive on November 4 after accusing Tigrayan forces of an attack on a government base in the region.

The Ethiopian government on Tuesday froze bank accounts of businesses linked to leaders of the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF).

The Federal Attorney General issued a statement on Tuesday listing 34 business entities whose bank accounts had been frozen, saying there is evidence that the companies are involved in financing the "Junta” in Tigray and trying to derail country's constitutional order.

The banned companies are in finance, mining, textile, construction, wholesale trade, transport, manufacturing and other sectors, and have long been said to have close ties to the TPLF.

Among them are Sur Construction, one of the largest construction companies in the country, Guna Trading Enterprise, Almeda Textile Manufacturing, Mesebo Cement Factory, and transport and foreign trade firm Trans Ethiopia.

Others are the pharmaceutical manufacturer Addis Pharmaceutical, Izana Mining, Mesfin Industrial Engineering, Selam Public Transport Association, and Mega Printing Company.

The freezing of the companies' accounts comes two weeks after the government took action against the TPLF-led Tigray Special Forces.

Amnesty

Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed has also announced an end to a three-day amnesty granted to leaders of the TPLF to surrender to authorities. The leaders were being sought by the Ethiopian police.

In a message posted on his social media pages, PM Abiy said some Tigray Special Forces and the militia have peacefully surrendered to save themselves and rescue their people.

While he did not indicate how many had given in, he said those who haven’t will face the full force of the law as his government implements the “final steps” of crushing the TPLF.

Meanwhile, the UK on Tuesday added to the growing voices of those in the international community urging Ethiopia to reduce tensions for civilians’ sake.

“The UK is deeply concerned by reports of increasing violence from Ethiopia,” James Duddridge, the UK Minister for Africa, said in a statement.

“We continue to urge all parties to de-escalate actions in Tigray. Protection of civilians, their human rights, and humanitarian access are of the utmost importance.”

Conflict

Federal troops are locked in a two-week conflict against Tigray’s forces, which has killed hundreds on both sides, rocked the Horn of Africa, stirred ethnic frictions elsewhere in Ethiopia and sent 30,000 refugees fleeing into Sudan.

Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed has billed the offensive as a campaign to restore rule of law in the northern state of more than five million people, saying victory would come in days.

He launched the offensive on November 4 after accusing Tigrayan forces of an attack on a government base in the region.

Tigrayans have dominated political leadership between 1991 and 2018.

--Additional reporting by Reuters.