Ethiopia’s flagship airline ‘contributed to secret arms deals’

This article is over 2 years old Official Ethiopia Airlines denies ‘irregular procurement’ of arms during war that began after the toppling of Ethiopia’s communist government in 1991 Ethiopia used its flagship commercial airline…

Ethiopia's flagship airline 'contributed to secret arms deals'

This article is over 2 years old

Official Ethiopia Airlines denies ‘irregular procurement’ of arms during war that began after the toppling of Ethiopia’s communist government in 1991

Ethiopia used its flagship commercial airline to transport military equipment during the civil war that followed the toppling of its communist government in 1991, according to a report.

Ethiopia Airlines was implicated in secret arms deals and the recruitment of mercenaries to fight in the Tigray region of eastern Ethiopia, according to a leaked report by an EU military aid expert working with the army of Djibouti.

Many of the facilities mentioned in the report were airfields, plane hangars, anti-aircraft guns and a navigational facility used for military planes. It said many of the “irregular procurement arrangements” had taken place between 1992 and 1991.

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According to Aviation Diplomacy, the military analyst report was issued in 2006 but only became public this week.

“A new development in this context can be Ethiopia’s decision to engage in numerous arms procurings by its national flag carrier, Ethiopian Airlines,” Aviation Diplomacy quoted the report as saying.

Ethiopia Airlines spokesperson Asrat Abi Deen denied that the airline was involved in any such dealings.

“It is completely baseless and inappropriate to link Ethiopia Airlines with irregular procurement of arms that took place in Ethiopia when civil war was taking place in the country,” Deen told Agence France-Presse on Tuesday.

Deen said the policy of engaging in arms deals was unique to local business and had “no relation to Ethiopia Airlines”.

“Ethiopia Airlines never deals with arms procuring in the country or outside the country,” Deen said.

The Eritrean prime minister’s visit to London last week sparked debate about whether he could bring political concerns about relations with his country over a border dispute with Ethiopia that went unresolved after a border war in 1998-2000.

Eritrea had accused Ethiopia of “illegally facilitating” the travel of six Eritrean military generals to London to apologise to Eritrea’s army for a crackdown that forced thousands of civilians to flee their homeland.

Ethiopia reacted by saying it was refusing the delegates entry to the country and that Eritrea was carrying out economic warfare against the Ethiopian people.

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