Ethiopia’s government and politics are going through radical reforms. Compared to last year this time, Ethiopians now enjoy a great deal of freedom. The independent press is practically free. And opposition parties are freely operating. But not all Ethiopians are enjoying this freedom. Prominent among them is Ermias Amelga, one of Ethiopia’s brightest economists and entrepreneurs.
Ermias is a very wealthy man. He made his money in California real estate. His only interest in Ethiopia is to help bring the country out of its abject poverty. That is why he chooses to stay in Ethiopia and risk being abused by corrupt politicians.
For over a decade, Ermias has been in and out of Ethiopian prisons for no good reason. So far, no court has found him guilty of any crime. When Dr. Abiy Ahmed came to power last April, Erimias thought finally his nightmare has ended. He expressed hope in an interview he held with JTV recently. He has been in the process of establishing a multi-million-dollar data center that can help transition Ethiopia out of its current information dark age.
Instead, he was hauled off to prison again last week after the Attorney General’s Office charged him with selling the Imperial Hotel in Addis Ababa to the government-owned Metals Engineering Corporation (METEC) for 75 million birr, which the Attorney General or his assistants think is high. They say the price of the hotel should be no more than 51 million birr! Yes, it is unbelievable but true. The idiots at the Attorney General’s Office have charged a businessman for setting a real estate property price that they think is high! Shockingly stupid! There is no such law. The Attorney General’s Office has made up a crime that does not exist. METEC or any buyer has the right to decline a price or make a counteroffer. Setting a price high for a real estate property is not a crime in a civilized society.
Erimias Amelga’s crime is that he is unwilling to bribe the corrupt officials in the ruling party or make them silent partners in his company. The only reason they keep throwing him in jail for the past 10 years is that he is trying to do everything by the book.
The senseless arrest of Ermias Amelga erodes the credibility of the Attorney General’s Office, and negatively impacts PM Abiy’s reform movement. There are thousands of monstrous criminals like Getachew Assefa out there who are responsible for unspeakable crimes against Ethiopians. Instead of going after them, the Attorney General’s Office arrests an innocent Ethiopian and charges him with a nonexistent crime on behalf of some corrupt powerful members of the ruling party.
Free Ermias and let him help Ethiopia develop economically. Attorney General Birhanu Tsegaye and his colleagues should, instead, focus on the real criminals who have been plundering and tormenting Ethiopia for the past 3 decades.
INTERVIEW WITH ERMIAS AMELGA