Ethiopia Freezes Assets of Fund Accused of Backing War in Tigray

Ethiopian authorities froze the bank accounts of dozens of companies linked to a conglomerate run by the ruling party of the dissident Tigray region.

Intensifying a government campaign to gain control of the state, the Attorney General’s Office targeted 34 subsidiaries of the Endowment Fund for the Rehabilitation of Tigray. The fund, administered by the Tigray People’s Liberation Front, controls some of Ethiopia’s biggest businesses, including Sur Construction and Ezana Mining Development.

The account freezes were imposed on the companies for allegedly “participating in financing ethnic-based violence, acts of terrorism, connection with the TPLF, which seeks to overthrow the constitutional order,” the office said in a statement on Facebook.

Tigray President Debretsion Gebremichael didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment sent by mobile phone.

READ: Ethiopia’s Tigray Region to Open Endowment Fund to Scrutiny

Ethiopia’s army has clashed with fighters loyal to the TPLF for the past two weeks as the government tries to impose its authority in the restive region. Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed ordered the incursion on Nov. 3, when he accused the TPLF of attacking a federal military base and seizing artillery and other equipment. The raid on the camp came two months after the TPLF held a regional election in defiance of a government ban.

READ: Defiant Ethiopian Party Wins Local Election Banned by State

The violence has spooked investors, who’ve been pouring money into Ethiopia since Abiy took power in 2018 and began opening up the state-controlled economy — one of the fastest-growing in Africa last year. Yields on the nation’s $1 billion of Eurobonds maturing in 2024 have risen almost 200 basis points since the conflict erupted and traded at 8.19% in London on Tuesday.

Hundreds of people have died and thousands have been displaced since the conflict began. International aid groups have voiced growing concern about the lack of access to people in Tigray who require humanitarian assistance, which the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs estimates at almost 200,000 people.

“Since the conflict began in early November, we have had reports of tens of thousands of people being newly displaced inside Tigray,” said Saviano Abreu, a spokesman for the UN agency. “The number of people in need of urgent assistance in Tigray is rising daily.”

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