His arrest may be a prelude to the arrest of Azeb Mesfin, aka “Mother of Corruption”
A top Ethiopian security official has been arrested on corruption charges, a radio affiliated to the ruling party said on Friday.
The official, Woldeselassie Woldemichael, a close friend and confidant of Azeb Mesfin, the widow of the late Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, was thrown into jail as part of the ongoing hunt for officials who have amassed wealth on grounds of corruption.
Woldeselassie was a close friend of Gebrewahd Woldegiorgis, former deputy head of Revenue and Customs Authority, who has been in jail for months accused of corruption.
Observers say the arrest of the ranking security official could be a prelude to the arrest of Azeb, who is billed “Mother of All Corruption” in the country.
“It is a matter of time before Azeb joins the ranks of the corrupt officials now behind bars,” a source said.
Azeb was recently relieved of her post as CEO of EFFORT, the business oligarchy that has never been audited despite comprising major multi-billion-dollar companies such as Sur Construction, Mesfin Engineering, Almeda Textiles, and nearly two dozen business enterprises that have been the cash cow of the Meles-Azeb family and their inner-circle liutenants.
When Meles Zenawi was alive, Azeb was the most feared and powerful woman who at party meetings lashed out at current security chief Getachew Assefa for corruption and extravagant lifestyle. Azeb had insisted that Getachew should be fired and her favorite, Woldeselassie, promoted.
The once powerful and aggressive woman is slowly turning into the most vulnerable following the death of her husband in August last year. She now doesn’t have any known official job. Critics have been blaming her for being corrupt on the one hand and incomptetent on the other that she can’t work as CEO of EFFORT. Though not officially reported, there were anti-Azeb protests at a number of EFFORT-affiliated companies that called for her removal.
Azeb has been counting on the political clout of Abai Woldu, a TPLF politburo official who is at loggerheads with the Addis-Ababa-based Getachew Assefa and behind-the-scene powerful man, Debretsion Gebremichael, who is deputy chairman of TPLF and minister of Communication and Information Technology.
In reality, many consider Debretsion as Number One in the power hierarchy, and his side leading the anti-corruption campaign means the days of Azeb as the spoilt brat of the palace are over.
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