Al Amoudi, Ethiopian born Saudi billionaire has been behind bars in a maximum security prison in Saudi Arabia for many months on alleged charges of corruption and now one of his most lucrative business in Ethiopia, the Gold mine in Lege dembi, Shakiso, is in trouble as residents in the area are protesting renewal of contract for the mine.
Project archive under Midroc indicates that the Gold Mine, which is the largest Gold deposit in Ethiopia, was acquired as a share company more than two decades ago, in 1997 to be exact. It was acquired as a 20 year concession at the cost of US $172 million,according to Institute of Developing Economies Japan external Trade Organization. It is believed that Al Amoudi was worth much less than $2 billion at the time the gold mine was acquired and his wealth soared to nearly 15 billion by the time he was arrested by Saudi government in November 2017.
Residents says that chemicals used in the gold mine caused environment pollution that led to breathing problems and birth defects and they want the government to revoke renewal of the concession. However, government has already renewed the licence for Midroc Ethiopia; the company is meant to mine gold for another ten years.
Residents are not backing down and they reportedly confronted government security forces. A report by Amharic service of Voice of America said today that clash between the people in Shakiso and security forces led to loss of lives but no figure was reported regarding the number of causalities. According to a resident who spoke to VOA Amharic, the clash started after security forces shot a young man. VOA added that there was gunfire in the town in the evening.
Ethiopian Satellite Television (ESAT) report says so far four civilians are killed including two children. Several residents have reportedly sustained wounds and are admitted to hospital. Based on ESAT’s account, deployment of Agazi forces came after week long protest by residents and they fired live bullets on protesters. Businesses in the town are closed and roads in the town were also closed as part of the resistance to
Apparently, Federal and regional authorities have been trying to address the demand but were unable to get away with renewing the licence as the discontent is stronger.
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