Ethiopia Shakes Up Board at Military-Affiliated Corporation

(Bloomberg) -- Ethiopia’s prime minister reshuffled the board at a military-industrial conglomerate that’s played a crucial role in projects to develop Africa’s fastest-growing economy.

The changes at Metals & Engineering Corp. include appointing the industry minister as chairman and former premier Meles Zenawi’s widow to the seven-member board. The moves, detailed by company spokesman Michael Desta, come after Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed vowed to curb what he called “favoritism” in business toward the security forces.

MeTEC, a corporation run by retired military personnel under Abiy’s office, has worked in infrastructure and industrial projects key to the Horn of Africa nation’s centrally planned economy. But Abiy’s ascension to prime minister in April, after his predecessor failed to quell more than two years of regional protests, has brought a shift: a MeTEC contract for a sugar factory has been canceled and a deal to build a fertilizer complex put under review.

The new MeTEC chairman, Industry Minister Ambachew Mekonnen, replaces Ethiopia’s deputy prime minister, Demeke Mekonnen, whose appointment had only been a temporary measure, spokesman Michael said by phone.

Asmelash Woldeselassie, a former legal adviser to the prime minister’s office, was also appointed to the board, as was Azeb Mesfin, whose husband Meles ruled Ethiopia until his death in 2012.

Executive Committee

She was among several members of the central committee of the Tigrayan People’s Liberation Front, one of the four wings of the ruling party, who were removed from that body in November for unspecified infractions. Asmelash is a member of the TPLF’s executive committee.

Michael said a deputy defense minister, Getachew Hailemariam, and a deputy minister for communication and information, Mebratu Gebremariam, who were appointed by Abiy on May 10, have also been named to the board. “All seven are new,” Michael said.

Michael said he would give the names of the two other board members later, adding that he didn’t know why the changes were made.

Abiy in April appointed Bekele Bulado, a civilian who was previously a minister for trade, as the new director-general of MeTEC, replacing Major-General Kinfe Dagnew, who tendered his resignation ahead of an April 19 cabinet reshuffle.

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