Mohamud “Shujaac” Haji Abdirahmaan was detained on Wednesday by the regional police of Jigjiga, Eastern Ethiopia, in what appears to be a politicized arrest. He is a Finnish national who had recently returned to his country of origin to take part in the much needed development by investing into the tourism sector. The years he had spent in Finland did not go in vain as he was an active and prominent character within the community. He was the founder of one of the largest Somali associations in Finland which focuses on the development of the youth and integration into the Finnish society. In his later years, Abdirahmaan was part of different types of business ventures across the Middle-East. With gained experience and funds, Abdirahmaan collaborated with his close family to open one of the most prestige hotels in Jigjiga, The City Crown Hotel. The project was hailed by the regional government as a model example of an investment that would create jobs, wealth and opportunities. In spite of this, this same government now appears to have failed to protect the very same person they were previously applauding.
Recent years in Ethiopia have been rife with tensions between different ethnic groups. The minority Tigrayan ruling elite has long been systematically suppressing others, especially those forming the majority in the otherwise largely diverse country. The largest ethnic groups in the country are the Amhara and the Oromo. They also are the most suppressed. More often than not, relatives of the aforementioned tribes form alliance with the ruling party to aid in the suppression of the Amhara and Oromo and are subsequently controlled by these relatives. Human Rights Watch has reported systematic repression and violence against protesters.
What makes this arrest different from the others is that Abdirahmaan, who is a Somali with Oromo roots, was not involved in politics nor was part of a protest. Family members have failed to receive a clear explanation regarding the arrest from the Ethiopian officials. Rather, it seems that his newly founded Hotel has stirred up envy amongst the ruling elite in the region, and the current climate of hostility and tensions was used as a disguise to confiscate his wealth. If this is the case, it would have a hugely negative impact on future investments to Jigjiga or even Ethiopia at large. If entrepreneurs and investors are not exercising their lawful rights and if a lack due diligence persists, they will simply divert their investments to other locations with better legal protection. Consequently, this will further slow down the development in these deprived regions and will affect the economic growth.