AfDB says it files complaint after Ethiopia staff arrested, assaulted

ADDIS ABABA (Reuters) -The African Development Bank (AfDB) said on Thursday it had lodged a formal complaint with Ethiopian authorities after two of its staff members were arrested, assaulted and detained by security forces.

Calling it a “very serious diplomatic incident”, the AfDB said the two employees were on Oct. 31 “unlawfully arrested, physically assaulted and detained for many hours by elements of the security forces without any official explanation.”

State finance minister Eyob Tekalign told Reuters the government regretted the incident and was investigating.

“I assure you this is an absolutely isolated incident … We are very, very sad about this, have expressed our regrets officially, us as a government … I am sure we will get to the bottom of it,” he said.

The employees, based in Addis Ababa, were released after Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed learned of the incident, the AfDB said.

“For their part, the government has formally acknowledged our complaint, recognised the gravity of the incident and reassured us that all those involved in breaking the law will be thoroughly investigated,” the bank added.

The bank’s operations in the east African country had not been affected by the incident, it added.

The AfDB has eight projects in Ethiopia worth a total of about $308 million, according to its website.

A spokesperson for the AfDB declined to comment further when asked for more details about what happened to its staff.

(Reporting by Rachel Savage in Johannesburg, Aaron Ross and Dawit Endeshaw in Addis Ababa, Writing by Bhargav Acharya; Editing by William Maclean and Andrew Heavens)