Ethiopia's PM denies aid spent on weapons
Published 09/03/2010 | 05:00
THE prime minister of Ethiopia has stepped into the row between Bob Geldof and the BBC, which has claimed that 95pc of the $100m in aid raised by 'Live Aid' to fight famine in rebel-held northern Ethiopia in 1985 was diverted to be spent on weapons.
Meles Zenawi -- who was one of the leaders of the rebel group the Tigrean People's Liberation Front (TPLF) and is now the country's prime minister -- said that the BBC had fallen for lies put out by his political opponents ahead of a general election next month.
"The notion that a decision was taken to spend 95pc of aid on the military is a complete lie," he said.
"We needed food because by 84-85 we had an extensive liberated area under our control. But it was terribly hit by famine. The danger was that the population, on whom we depended, would leave the liberated area and go over to the government area in search of food. So we needed the food to keep our people in our area." Mr Zenawi said.
The BBC yesterday insisted it was standing by its story. It issued a statement that said: "Aregawi Berhe, the TPLF military commander in the mid-1980s, said that the relief society connected to the TPLF received about $100m and that a decision was made that only 5pc should be spent on helping famine victims. The balance, he said, was used to fund the TPLF and a linked political party."
Band Aid's lawyers were preparing an official complaint for the broadcasting standards watchdog.