June 11, 2019 (KHARTOUM) - Former U.S. Special Envoy for Sudan and South Sudan Donald Booth will be appointed as Special Adviser on Sudan to Tibor Nagy the Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, reported The Foreign Policy Magazine on Monday evening.

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U.S. Special Envoy Donald Booth, speaks at the U.S. House Subcommittee on Africa, on April 28, 2016 (ST Photo)

The move comes as over 70 U.S. lawmakers last May urged the State Department to put pressure on the military council to ensure rapid power transfer to a civilian-led government in Sudan.

Also, the US House of Representatives is set to endorse a resolution on Sudan urging “the United States Government to continue efforts to convene and work with the international community in support of a civilian-led government in Sudan”

However, US officials admitted that the lack of a clear policy towards the Sudanese crisis can explain the absence of strong action to bring the Sudanese junta to hand over power to the peaceful protesters in Sudan.

“There’s no leadership on this issue in State (Department) or the White House,” said a U.S. official involved in deliberations, who spoke on condition of anonymity to Foreign Policy.

Recently, U.S. President Donald Trump’s National Security Adviser John Bolton had to tweet twice on Sudan to express his support for the power transfer to civilians.

Also, Nagy kept posting several tweets related to the situation in Sudan to show that the State Department has been following with concern the dramatic developments in the east African nation.

Further, Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs, David Hale had to speak with Saudi and Emirati officials to encourage them to put pressure on the military junta which has been suddenly under international focus after the bloody raid on the main protest site killing over hundred people.

U.S. top diplomat for Africa will visit Sudan in the coming days as part of a tour in the African continent from 12 to 23 June. He is expected to meet the military council and the opposition Forces for Freedom and Change (FFC).

The ruling junta, according to opposition sources, has finally admitted giving the chairmanship of the Sovereign Council and the majority of the 15-member presidential body to the opposition.

If implemented, this means that Booth will be tasked with the follow-up of the implementation of democratic reforms and the peace process which should take place during the transitional period.



May 30, 2019 News

After a long period of clustered preparation in many US cities, the Eritreans activists’ campaign culminated in a large meeting in Washington DC between May 23 until May 25.

The Eritrean movement was initially inspired by the Arab Spring in 2012.

In late 2010 Mohammed Bouazizi, a frustrated young street vendor set himself on fire in protest against the injustices in Tunisia. Bouazizi’s sacrifice inspired Tunisians to protest against their government and forced the Tunisian dictator, Zen Al-Abedeen Bin Ali to flee the country in January 2011, after ruling it for 23 years. He fled to Saudi Arabia where he sought refuge and where he is still living.

The Bouazizi type of protest reached Egypt where a man set himself alight. Weeks of popular protest ensued and by February 2011, the Egyptian protest intensified forcing Hosni Mubarak to step down ending his 30-year rule.

In October 2011, a similar uprising in Libya resulted in the killing of Muammar Al Gathafi who had ruled Libya for 42 years.

Meanwhile, the uprisings that spread to many Arab countries is either continuing with great human and material cost, or has attracted foreign interests that complicated the situation leaving several countries in abysmal conditions.

The Syrian uprising that started in March 2011 in the wake of the Arab Spring has resulted in worse conditions and incited Russia, the USA, the Gulf Arab countries, and Turkey to get involved. So far, the situation in Syria has transformed into a civil war producing about 7 million internally displaced people as well as about 5 million refugees who left the country.

By 2014, the Islamic State (ISIS) had controlled large territories in Syria with an estimated 8 million population under its mercy.

In Yemen, the Arab spring started in January 2011 just after the Tunisian uprising, and by 2012, after a failed assassination attempt, Ali Saleh who ruled Yemen for 22 years was forced to resign. And though Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi was elected as his replacement, Ali Saleh continued to play political role and allied himself with the Houthi movement. However, in December 2017 his alliance with the Houthis came to an end and he was killed while fleeing from his palace.

Soon, the Yemeni uprisings and protests turned into a full-fledged civil war, and finally with the involvement of Saudi Arabia and the UAE, it became a wider regional conflict. Since then, the two countries have been bombing Yemen turning its cities into rubble and causing a widespread disease, hunger, and a collapse of most of the vital civil services. 

In addition to the above countries, Sudan and Algeria have been continuing the protests since the spread of the Arab Spring though both protests were on and off for different reasons. Currently, both countries have reached decisive moments in their attempt to usher a post-dictatorship era. However, observers believe the two countries risk ending up with another dictatorship as evidenced in Egypt the chain of events finally brought General Abdulfatah Al Sisi to power.

Eritrean #Enough Campaign

The Kifaya movement had its origin in 2004 when the Egyptian Movement for Change (EMFC) made it its rallying cry in protesting against the regime of Husni Mubarak.  It survived in a relatively low profile until 2011 when it joined the Arab Spring protests when many social-media savvy young Egyptians became part of the movement. Thus, the Kifaya slogan was popularized and became synonymous with the Arab Spring.

Eritrean activists adopted the #Kifaya slogan inspired by the Arab Spring. And by November 2011, Eritrean activists fully adopted the slogan and launched the Eritrean Youth Solidarity for Change (EYSC), a Facebook movement that brought together several other groups under one umbrella. However, by 2013, the group ceased to exist.

Last year, the #Kifaya movement was resurrected again (#Enough in English and #Yiakl in Tigrinya) and it soon gained wide acceptance. Following an extensive campaign, the #Enough movement established affiliates in 35 cities across the USA and an overwhelming number of Diaspora Eritreans joined it.

Finally, in coincidence with the Eritrean Independence Day (May 24), the movement called for a  countrywide conference in Washington, DC. Eighty-one elected representatives from 35 cities, and hundreds of people attended the conference.

The movement carried out a popular rally in Washington, DC, where a large number of Eritreans participated.

In its first conference, the movement formed a congress composed of the representatives of the cities and elected a 35-member central council. It also delegated the seven-member organizing committee to act as an executive body for a month after which it is expected to elect a permanent committee.

The members of the transitional executive members are:

  1. Weyni Beyene, Dr (Miami, FL)
  2. Tekie Tewelde (Cincinnati, OH)
  3. Mahfuz Ibrahim (Washington, DC)
  4. Aklil Hailu (Denver, CA)
  5. Tirhas Berhe (Indianapolis, IN)
  6. Tesfahiwet Kidane (Houston, TX)
  7. Tesfay Kibrom, (Phoenix AZ)
Eritrea Detains Christians, Attacks Protest
By Stefan J. Bos -
26th May 2019
By Stefan J. Bos, Chief International Correspondent BosNewsLife

ASMARA/LONDON (BosNewsLife)– Investigators say dozens of devoted Christians have been detained near Eritrea’s capital Asmara as part of an official crackdown on Christian believers while in London Eritrean government supporters interrupted a vigil of rights activists and attacked a journalist.
Roughly 30 Christians were arrested May 17 as they gathered at two locations in Godaif, a region south of Asmara, rights investigators told BosNewsLife. “This follows reports of the arrest of 141 Christians, including 14 minors, in the Maitemenai district of Asmara, on or around May 10,” said rights group Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW).

The Christians were reportedly transported to separate detention centers according to their gender. About 50 of these detainees were released, but others remain behind bars, activists said.

The news emerged after a significant crowd of government protesters tried to interrupt a peaceful protest vigil Thursday, May 23, outside the Eritrean Embassy in London where advocates commemorated the closure of churches in Eritrea, BosNewsLife established.

The protest vigil has been held every May for 16 years by organizations such as CSW, the Eritrean Orthodox Church in Britain, and advocacy groups Church in Chains, Human Rights Concern Eritrea and Release Eritrea.


It marks the anniversary of the Eritrean government’s outlawing of religious practices not affiliated with the Catholic, Evangelical Lutheran and Orthodox Christian denominations or Sunni Islam in May 2002. Even within the established churches devoted Christians face difficulties as the officials regard them as a threat to the power base of autocratic President Isaias Afwerki and his allies, BosNewsLife learned.

Thousands of Christians have been detained and jailed over the years, some of whom held for well over a decade, according to activists and local believers. Eritrea is the home of the Eritrean Orthodox Church whose Christian history is defined by the Orthodox Church, experts say. “Therefore, other denominations—in particular, Pentecostal churches—are not regarded as legitimate. This exclusion leads to persecution on many fronts for non-traditional believers,” said Open Doors, a well-informed advocacy group.

At Thursday’s rally in London activists also recalled the “ensuing and ongoing campaign of arrests” of thousands of Christians in the autocratically ruled African nation. At its peak, the government crackdown saw at least “3000 Christians of all denominations detained arbitrarily,” CSW said.

Video footage obtained by BosNewsLife confirmed that counter-protesters had spread out across the area where the London vigil occurs typically. They reportedly notified local police of their “all-day event” on the previous evening.

Several men who approached the organizers told them to “leave this area because there are many more of us than you,” CSW witnesses said. Another allegedly asked: “where is Martin Plaut?” referring to a British journalist who was reportedly lured to a café near the British library and assaulted.

Plaut was reportedly attacked by a man who produced a large plastic box full of a white liquid and flung its contents at the journalist, screaming that he was a “traitor” to Eritrea. Plaut’s clothes and bag were soaked by the liquid, which appeared to have been a mixture of milk, flour, and eggs.

They also began videotaping the Eritrean organizers.
(Story continues below. Video footage shows protesters being interrupted by Eritrean government supporters).
CSW’s Chief Executive Mervyn Thomas suggested to BosNewsLife that this was the first time the vigil was interrupted by government-linked people and supporters. “We have been protesting peacefully outside the Eritrean Embassy every year for the past 16 years, and the fact that the Eritrean authorities organized a counter-protest this year means we are making an impact.”

However, he said, “We were not intimidated by any aggressive displays, and will continue our yearly vigil at that venue until every prisoner of conscience is free.”

The protest vigil eventually shifted to an area on the opposite side of the road close to the Embassy, and it continued as planned, despite loud music, singing, dancing, chants, and gesticulations from counter-protesters.

Speaking at the new location outside the Eritrean Embassy, Berhane Asmelash of Release Eritrea noted that every year, “thousands of Eritreans are perishing in the Mediterranean Sea, trying to flee from the government.”

He added: “In 2001, the government arrested journalists and some who asked for reform, and until now they are in prison, and in 2002 the Eritrean government shut all churches, and until now none of them have been opened, and a lot of officials are still in prison, hundreds of them. Even last week, some Christians were arrested. In Eritrea, it is bad for everybody.”

Other speakers included Priest Shenouda of the Eritrean Orthodox Church, and Elsa Chyrum of Human Rights Concern Eritrea, who said: “Nothing has changed in Eritrea since the rapprochement with Ethiopia” following years of conflict. He said Christians and others are “fleeing from imprisonment without trial, torture, persecution, and above all, the lifetime national service for every young man or woman over 18 years of age.”

CSW’s Thomas said that his group remains concerned “for those who were arrested recently merely for exercising their right to freedom of religion or belief.” He stressed that the crackdown violates the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, signed by Eritrea, and the country’s own “ratified constitution, which the government has failed to implement since May 1997.”

Thomas complained that these “grave violations” are continuing “even as Eritrea occupies a seat on the Human Rights Council (HRC)” of the United Nations. “We, therefore, urge member states [of the HRC] to facilitate the renewal of the special rapporteur’s mandate during the upcoming HRC session.”

The CSW leader stressed these measures are crucial to ensure “continued human rights monitoring” and to “assist in advancing accountability for atrocity crimes” in Eritrea as mentioned in a 2016 report of the HRC’s Commission of Inquiry. It is also important to set “time-bound benchmarks for improvements in human rights” in the country, he added.
The latest developments come amid pressure on President Afwerki to improve human rights in the nation that he has ruled since it became independent in 1993. His People’s Front for Democracy and Justice (PFDF) is the sole political party. Presidential elections planned for 1997 never happened in the country of nearly 5.6 million people, most of them Muslims.


Thousands flee “regime of Eritrean President” President Isaias Afwerki according to activists.

The government has consistently denied wrongdoing and says people are free to worship within the laws of the land. In reality, Afwerki has overseen a “brutal regime” that rests on massive human rights violations, argued Open Doors, an influential Christian aid, and advocacy group. It placed Eritrea number 7 on its annual World Watch List what was it says are the 50 countries with the worst rights abuses of Christians.

Open Doors noted in its List for 2019 that government security forces conducted many house-to-house raids and imprisoned hundreds of Christians in inhumane conditions,
including small shipping containers in the scorching heat. “Protestants, in particular, face serious problems in accessing community resources, especially social services provided by the State.”

Additionally “Christians are being forced to join the armed forces, and Protestants, in particular, face serious problems with accessing community resources, especially social services provided by the state,” Open Doors said in an assessment. “Individuals from non-traditional church groups, such as evangelicals, face the harshest persecution forms of Christian persecution. Both converts from a Muslim background and cross-denominational converts from an Orthodox background encounter harsh mistreatment from their families and communities.”

In 2018, Eritrea embraced an end to hostility with both nearby Ethiopia and Somalia, but Open Doors said it remains to be seen whether this will have a positive impact on Christians. “This extreme pressure and state-sanctioned violence are forcing some Christians to flee Eritrea–often called “Africa’s North Korea”–and seek asylum.”

May 26, 2019 News


Eritreans from Canberra, Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth and Adelaide attended the demonstration.
Letters were sent to the Australian government, the UNHCR, the EU as welll as other ambassadors.
The letter sent to the Australian government was read to public during the demonstration session in front of the Parliament house. [See below] Photos at end.

May 26, 2019 News

It is hardly news to say that Eritrea is repressive, or that it has no democracy. But for many years people (even grudgingly) accepted that the rule of President Isaias Afwerki was free from the scourge of corruption.

Sadly, this is no longer the case.

These studies, accumulated by the World Bank, point in the other direction.

This graph summarises the findings.

Eritrea Corruption graph

The original material is drawn from 22 different institutions – ranging from the African Development Bank to the World Bank itself.

As someone sometime ago put it, The most important trip you may take in life is meeting people half way.”  In a few months’ time, we will celebrate the 58th anniversary of the start of our armed struggle for national liberation. This is quite a life- time during which no real compromises and accords were reached between rival Eritrean political groups. But regretting and brooding over lost opportunities will not serve us any useful purpose. Today, what can be helpful is to think of meeting half the way - making compromises in order to rescue our gradually but surely sinking ship.   

During the past week, there appeared yet another well written paper on our sad situation; it also listed recommendations as to what can be done. The paper, dated 22 May 2019 and entitled “Eritrea: State of the Nation,” was signed by 16 of our compatriots, many of them with long and good record in the struggle for liberation and democratic change.

The group is raising issues that deserve consideration and agree without delay so that we as a nation can avert serious problems in the post-PFDJ period. For lack of a better name, we can call the group ‘G-16’.

Useful Replay

It is true that G-16’s analysis of our situation and the recommendations/proposals they make can be seen as part of our never-ending circus of trying to ‘reinvent the wheel,’ which in fact is a grave sin that all of us have been committing for decades.  

So, let the G-16 paper be re-inventing, regurgitating of things that we said and wrote before. Still, it is to our national advantage to accept it as if it were a new call for action. No forgetting that we have already accepted the “Enough is Enough” momentum as a new call although that call is as old as our resistance to the Asmara regime.  We need to strike the iron while it is hot. We need to speed up national dialogue and agree on critical issues like a legal document for the transition period.

G-16 are describing our situation as a polarized one, especially in regard to the 1997 constitution which many Eritreans accept as “an excellent legal document”  while  other Eritreans “consider the document flawed in its exclusionary process and content (flag, land, language, unitary state), reflecting only the value system of the EPLF.”  

The paper also states that the zero-sum approaches of our past politicking are not leading us anywhere. Compatriots in G-16 are therefore appealing that: “each side must retreat from its entrenched position and meet the other half way.”

This is one of the key messages addressed by the group of professionals to many Eritreans in the opposition camp who always remained rightly mistrustful of the tyrannical regime that Isaias Afeworki installed after independence. That mistrust of Isaias was extended to the ruling party that he firmly controlled.

We need to admit that that mistrust is not easy to heal, nor did concerned parties take steps to address it. It is because of that unaddressed, unhealed mistrust that we failed to make compromises and reach solutions.

But now, we have no time to address lingering mistrusts. As the outburst of the papers we draft on the state of our nation clearly manifest, Eritrea is emptied of its youth, of its very soul, and we are in extremely critical times challenging the very survival of the independent state we created the hard way.  

What Do We Do?

The G-16 paper expresses deep concerns about the immediate aftermath of PFDJ in Eritrea if we do not have a legal document to start with. They strongly urge for compromises to agree on letting the 1997 constitution fill that vacuum. They say that the still unimplemented constitution “must be only a transitional document” for the transitional period beyond which time Eritreans have “the right to make partial or even wholesale changes to the constitution, and that can only come about in a free and stable environment.”  

What makes the G-16 paper different from most previous pronouncements is that it has come at the right time. It also clearly states what is needed: compromise and agreement regarding a legal document that can serve only for a limited transition period.  

This time round, we should not fail to think that this is an opportunity to be seized without delay. In other words, all concerned parties need to push this G-16 idea one step further and  translate it into a national agreement for that short transition period.

The G-16 paper rightly suggests action to draft legal codes on future constitutional organs like:  (a) Rules of Parliament, (b) Judiciary, (c) Offices of Attorney General, (d) Auditor General, (e) National bank, (f) Election Commission, (g) Election law, (h) Civil Service Commission, (i) Press law and others.

Yet, nothing is as important as their points for compromise about the 1997 constitution.

EPDP and the 1997 Constitution

When the Eritrean People’s Democratic Party (EPPD) was formed as merger on mid-night of 31 December 2009, it was resolved as follows:

 “the unimplemented constitution in Eritrea, which has been collecting dust since its ratification in 1997, can only find suitable ground for contemplation after the fall of the PFDJ regime. At that time, the question of replacing it by another document or amending it can be decided by a national referendum or become the responsibility of a democratically elected national parliament.”

This was a sensible compromise reached by the co-founders of the EPDP ten years ago. The subsequent congresses of the party confirmed that commitment regarding the  1997 constitution. In other words, the suggestions made in the G-16 paper about the  1997 constitution appear to be not that different from what the EPDP foresaw a decade ago.

It is everyone’s hope that the insistent calls for national dialogue by religious leaders, political organizations, civil society activists and national figures like those who took part in the recent London conference on Democracy Building in Eritrea will materialize soon into the holding of a National Conference for Unity and Reconciliation so that useful ideas for compromise and agreement like those suggested by this new G-16 can be considered.

Eritrea: The State of the Nation

Saturday, 25 May 2019 23:48 Written by

May 25, 2019 News


(1) Between December 2018 and May 2019, a diverse group of Eritrean professionals met in Nairobi, Kenya and online to evaluate developments since the rapprochement between Eritrea and Ethiopia (“ERITREAN THOUGHT LEADERS ON THE PRESENT DYNAMICS IN THE HORN OF AFRICA”). While we welcome the Eritrea-Ethiopia peace process and appreciate the Ethiopian leadership for embarking on such a bold, if long overdue, initiative, we are dismayed by the lack of progress towards normalizing governance within Eritrea and are alarmed by the rate of “peace-time” exodus, which we believe is directly related to the state of hopelessness the regime of Isaias Afwerki has engendered. Our conviction that this state of affairs will not change unless there are immediate and dramatic reforms in Eritrea is only matched by our persuasion that the regime is incapable, or unwilling, to do so. The inescapable conclusion is that the system over which Isaias Afwerki presides must go, and a mechanism for restoring popular sovereignty must begin in earnest immediately.

(2) While we welcome the Eritrea-Ethiopia peace treaty that was signed in Asmara in July 2018, the exodus out of the country has tripled. It is a phenomenon observed only in Eritrea: normally, peace treaties result in exiles returning to their home.

(3) During the first week of the Eritrea-Ethiopia border opening, almost ten thousand Eritreans registered in refugee camps in Tigray. They—including a shocking number of unaccompanied minors– continue to arrive, at a steady pace, in already resource-strained camps. The fact that so many Eritreans were eager to leave their country once they were provided a safe route highlights Eritrea’s desperate political and economic conditions at this time.

(4) Due to the command economy pursued by the State, the severe shortage of labor due to Eritrea’s exodus, the stranglehold of parastatal businesses, and Isaias Afwerki administration’s reckless foreign policy, Eritrea’s economy has been decimated. All sectors of the economy, agrarian and pastoral, fishers, farmland and entrepreneurship, have been severely downgraded. Most Eritrean entrepreneurs have been chased out of the country and the Eritrean economy remains dismal. In this vacuum created by the Asmara administration, unregulated Ethiopian businesspersons—including taxi-drivers and retailers—have crowded out what little remained of Eritrean businesses. This development, coupled with the secretive nature and dizzying pace of the peace treaty now consummated only at the head-of-government level, has led many to question the very nature of the peace agreement.

(5) The people of Eritrea have no say over how their national resources are exploited and ambiguous statements by both Eritrean and Ethiopian leaderships are creating serious uncertainty about Eritrea’s sovereignty. In short, Eritreans, both at home and abroad, are deeply concerned about their country’s future.

(6) At the foreign policy level, the triumphalist language of President Isaias Afwerki and Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed lends credence to the view that the peace agreement is not necessarily one that will benefit all Eritreans and Ethiopians, but one that is directed to creating winners and losers in the two countries: a sure recipe for perpetual strife. Moreover, the Gulf countries that Eritrea and Ethiopia have chosen to be “bosom
buddies” with have a long history of abysmal human rights records.

(7) Genuine peace, harmony, security and prosperity can only be sustained by the people with their full participation in all the affairs of their respective nations. Only a reconciliatory environment will help Eritreans release their energies and harness their initiative, creativity, and power to hold their government accountable. Only a government with moral authority and political legitimacy can lead a reconciliation effort. This is the second reason we are convinced the Government of Isaias Afwerki must go: it has been at the forefront of all the factors that polarized our people and destroyed our country.

(8) This report reflects the substance and spirit of meetings we held over the last 5 months in hopes of identifying ways out of our current state of confusion. It is our hope that it will offer some direction towards peaceful and constructive change and rule of law in our country. It will describe Eritrea’s dire situation and will conclude with suggestions for Eritreans from around the world on change management with minimal

Full Report ERITREA – The State of The Nation – English

1. Andom Ghebreghiorgis, New York, New York, United States of America
2. Asia Abdulkadir, Nairobi, Kenya
3. Assefaw Tekeste, California, United States of America
4. Awet T. Weldemichael, Ontario, Canada
5. Bereket Berhane Woldeab, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
6. Habteab Yemane Oghubazgi, Bern, Switzerland
7. Khadeijah Ali Mohammed-Nur, London, United Kingdom
8. Meron Semedar, Bay Area, California, United States of America
9. Paulos Tesfagiorgis, Ontario, Canada
10. Sabine Mohamed, Göttingen, Germany
11. Saleh Younis, Palo Alto, California, United States of America
12. Samuel Emaha Tsegai, Ontario, Canada
13. Sarah Ogbay, Manchester, United Kingdom
14. Uoldelul Chelati Dirar, Macerata, Italy
15. Vanessa Tsehaye, London, United Kingdom
16. Wejdan Osman, Ottowa, Canada

May 25, 2019 News

Eritreans have peace, now they want freedom

On this year’s Independence Day, Eritreans are dreaming of a post-Afwerki Eritrea.

Source: al-Jazzera
  • See President Isaias’s Independence Day speech at the end of this article
Eritrean President Afwerki attends the country's Independence Day celebrations in Asmara on May 24, 2007 [File: Jack Kimball/Reuters]
Eritrean President Afwerki attends the country’s Independence Day celebrations in Asmara on May 24, 2007 [File: Jack Kimball/Reuters]

Today, Eritrea is celebrating its hard-won independence, a victory earned after 30 years of fierce and deadly armed struggle, followed by 20 years of deadlock with neighbouring Ethiopia, after the border conflict of 1998-2000.

Like previous years, the Eritrean authorities have made extensive preparations to mark the anniversary with a major festival in the streets of Asmara. But this year, the celebrations will also feature a new element: two mannequins representing Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki with Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, who in a landmark move last year opened the common border for the first time in 20 years.

The regime clearly wants to celebrate the peace agreement and rapprochement with Ethiopia, still brandishing it as a major achievement. However, it will do so under tight security. While round-ups, patrols and checkpoints have been routine features of Independence Day security, they have reportedly been significantly boosted this year as a clear warning to the general population.

The Eritrean people, who initially also rejoiced at the peace agreement, hoping that the resolution of the cold conflict could bring them much-desired relief, are yet to see any change in their daily lives.

For two decades, they had been told that they have to live under a virtual state of emergency because Ethiopia is still posing an “existential threat” to their country and their freedom. All possible justifications for the continuing repression and austerity the regime could manufacture ended with the peace deal, the lifting of UN sanctions and the country’s admission to the UN Human Rights Council.

Today, Ethiopia is no longer a threat, given all the documents signed and all the official visits exchanged.

Yet the Eritrean president has clearly demonstrated that he will not relax the chokehold he has had the country in for so many years. As a result, little has changed for most Eritreans since last year.

After the border with Ethiopia was opened in September 2018, which allowed free movement of goods, the Eritrean market, which had suffered from an acute shortage of goods for years, briefly enjoyed stability and the sharp decline of prices.

But over the next eight months, Asmara gradually shut down all border crossings unilaterally without giving an official reason for doing so and put an end to the short-lived trade boom.

Having their hopes for economic opening and prosperity quashed, Eritreans have continued to flee the country, resorting to alternative routes to bypass the closed border crossings. Those who make it to neighbouring countries abroad are facing a precarious situation and the risk of having no valid documents, as some Eritrean consular offices have started rejecting requests for issuing passports to nationals who have left illegally after the peace deal with Ethiopia. 

Meanwhile, mandatory military conscription continues both for the regular army and the “popular army”. Conscripts to the latter, both men and women, are required to attend military drills, carry guns, and guard government buildings in night shifts after they are done with their regular government jobs.

After the peace deal and following Ethiopia’s announcement of amnesty for political prisoners, Eritreans were hopeful that their government would follow suit. But they were again disappointed. Repression continues against the population at large and specific targeted groups.

In May, around 140 followers of banned Christian denominations, including minors, were rounded up and taken into custody in Asmara. Since 2002, all religious groups that are not affiliated with the Orthodox, Roman Catholic or Lutheran Protestant churches or Sunni Islam have had to undergo mandatory registration, including giving up personal information of their members. Those who have failed to do so have been persecuted.

At the same time, the Eritrean president continues to keep not only the general population in the dark about the peace deal with Ethiopia but also members of his regime.

While the agreement was signed on July 9, 2018, in Asmara, Afwerki didn’t bother to conduct his first interview with local media until November 3, 2018. The president took 80 minutes to respond to a few preapproved questions and only addressed regional geopolitics and emphasised that Eritrea is still under threat from its many enemies. Yet neither he nor any regime officials ever addressed any of the domestic implications of the deal.

The most important issues for Eritrea’s general public remain unaddressed: when the indefinite national service will be suspended, the demarcation of border finalised, the rule of law restored and the ban on trade and construction lifted.

At the same time, the regime has sought to limit other sources of information Eritreans have been trying to access. In the past few months, the authorities have started trying to jam certain TV channels broadcast from abroadm, including opposition satellite TV Assenna.

Since early May, social media has also been blocked in Eritrea with the exception of selected officials and cadres, according to recent reports. Sources within the country have confirmed to me that certain websites are also being blocked, while most internet cafes – where a majority of Eritreans access the internet through a very slow connection (kept so intentionally) – instruct their customers to use proxy servers and VPN.

Having seen no improvements in their lives since the peace agreement was signed, Eritreans inside the country are growing increasingly frustrated. There may not have been protests – for those put down almost immediately by security forces – but public anger seems palpable. People who have visited the country recently have shared with me their impression that many citizens are openly voicing their criticism in public places. This was unheard of a year ago. “People are waiting for change more than ever,” a contact from inside Eritrea told me.

The revolution in neighbouring Sudan has certainly left its mark. Eritreans have watched carefully the events in Khartoum and have rejoiced at the show of solidarity by Sudanese protesters with their suffering.

Meanwhile, the diaspora has become increasingly active. In January, a social media campaign was launched under the hashtag #EnoughIsEnough which aimed to encourage Eritreans to talk openly about their post-peace-deal demands.

The campaign gradually spread across the world and recently resulted in various Eritrean communities holding official meetings to discuss how to bring lasting change to their motherland. Bigger public events in the United States and Canada have also been organised. In Washington, DC, for example, a two-day event is under way that includes public demonstration, seminars, and concerts.

Never have the Eritrean diaspora been so united. Until the recent past, regular meetings among the Eritrean opposition, let alone such festivals, were impossible. The turnout was always small, as many feared retaliation against family members back at home. Today, not only there is an unprecedented activity, but also an open conversation about a post-Afwerki Eritrea.

Up to now, the regime has ruled by fear, violence and endless excuses. Slowly but surely, all justifications for keeping the country in deliberate isolation and austerity are crumbling, while the population is growing increasingly bold in the face of extreme repression.

While it is impossible to guess how this anger will express itself, it seems certain now that political change is inevitable in Eritrea. Today, more than ever before, Eritreans are dreaming of celebrating their true liberation.

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Al Jazeera’s editorial stance.


Keynote Address by President Isaias Afwerki

Source: Shabait

  • Keynote Address by President Isaias Afwerki, 28th Independence Anniversary Asmara, 24 May 2019.

Dear Participant and Guests
Ladies and Gentlemen,

Let me first convey my heartfelt congratulations to the Eritrean people inside the country and in the Diaspora.  I also wish to express our gratitude to all those who stood on the side of the Eritrean people, on the side of truth and justice, for their invaluable solidarity.  My thanks to the Commission of Culture and Sports and all compatriots and foreign institutions for their endeavours to imbue commensurate magnificence to this auspicious occasion.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The theme of the 2019 Independence Anniversary is “Resilience for Higher Progress”!  Because this is a historical juncture in which the extraordinary resilience of the Eritrean people has been elevated and emerged triumphant once again.

The Eritrean people deserved to be independent, like other colonized peoples and even more so, in the immediate aftermath of the end of the Second World War.  But their inalienable national right was suppressed as the great powers of the time felt that “an independent Eritrea would not serve their strategic interests”.

For fifty years, the people of Eritrea had to overcome political subterfuges aimed at creating divisions and cleavages amongst them; challenge and triumph over annexation and occupation; and, conduct a thirty-year long armed struggle with unparalleled heroism and sacrifice to achieve independence on the basis of the supremacy of the rule of law.

In those fifty years, the Eritrean people confronted and vanquished the machinations of their external enemies.  They also secured their independence and sovereignty by combating internal divisive and toxic political tendencies, including a painful internecine war; by constantly strengthening their political cohesion.

To highlight a few of the principal values that underpin our resilience: Not to succumb and yield to force and intimidation!…. Not to cede to illicit and duplicitous machinations!  Not to compromise one’s dignity and values for cheap rewards and inducements! Not to be distressed under extreme duress!  Not to be disheartened by overwhelming challenges! Not to tire with hard work!  Not to spare one’s toil and blood, including one’s life!… Not to relent until objectives are achieved!

These firm convictions go beyond sheer beliefs and pledges.  They have been repeatedly demonstrated and have become the defining characteristics of the Eritrean people’s heritage.

How about in the last 28 years of independence and sovereignty?

As the Eritrean people embarked on the reconstruction and rehabilitation of their nation liberated through heavy sacrifices, they faced relentless hostilities designed to subdue, weaken and hold them hostage.

To this end, senseless border disputes were concocted! Unwarranted sanctions imposed!  Naked military attacks launched!  Political ruses, economic subversion, human trafficking as well as psychological warfare and demonization aimed at isolating Eritrea were perpetrated.  One can say: “thwarting all these wrongs would have been unimaginable without the resilience of the Eritrean people”!

Ladies and Gentlemen,

And today?

Our considered approach – when it was deemed that “all past machinations” have ceased and until the illicit sanctions were lifted –  was based on recognition of the unfolding events and realities “as the beginnings of a new era”.  Naturally, these are times of jubilation, lofty aspirations and euphoria!  But these momentous events should not prompt us to underestimate the challenges the new era brings.

Before prematurely charting out new and permanent sustainable development programmes, it is imperative that we conduct extensive political, economic and security appraisals so as to properly diagnose the unfolding realities with requisite depth.   We cannot make hasty and emotional conclusions before we collect adequate information, analyze these data comprehensively with patience so as to have a clear picture.  Hence, our focus should be geared towards patient appraisal of the unfolding reality. Our tasks and priorities today as well as for the near future should be to guarantee a conducive climate and basis for the new era.  This precept emanates from our values that have crystallized over time.

In this new era and without departing from the fundamental principles of nation-building, our cardinal objectives consist of creating and augmenting national wealth through hard work and efficient productivity, and, ensuring equitable distribution of resources and opportunities.  Our principal aim is to transform the primordial subsistence economy to a modern and developed industrial economy to bring sustainable change in the quality of life to vast segments of the population; especially those deprived in the past.

In order to pursue our nation building endeavours with a steady pace by marshalling our resources, and to capitalize on the momentum for greater rapid growth, we need to rigorously review fundamental programmes that will buttress real economic growth through higher productivity and increased output.  These development programmes can be distilled as follows:

o    Water infrastructure and distribution: To further refine our programmes of water supply for household, agriculture, and industrial consumption with the utilization of modern technology and associated means.

o    Road, rail, cableway and oil pipelines:  The three phases of i) renovation of existing systems; ii) expansion to ensure higher efficiency; and iii) implementation of new schemes that we have been pursuing in all these categories should be pursued with greater efficiency and expeditious scale of implementation.

o    Ports and coastlines: To revive projects that were obstructed and interrupted, with upgraded plans and implement them within a wide framework of cooperation and partnership.

o    Power generation and electricity supply:  To replace the old and unreliable power generation system with a functional grid in the interim period and focus on the design and implementation of an expansive system that will adequately meet all long-term needs and requirements.

o    Efficient and effective modern domestic road; rail, sea and air transport:  To link these systems with regional networks within a revised plan.

o    Housing:  To implement  –  with revised plans, better technology and efficiency –  various housing projects that have not been successful so far as provision of housing remains one of the fundamental yardsticks for measuring the quality of  life.

o    Health and Education Services:  To modernize the health infrastructure to address wider category of health needs and services; to prioritize effective and all-rounded investment in education in order to improve access at all levels and thereby bolster our human capital which is critical for development and nation-building.

o    Industrial sector: To undertake comprehensive review – of each programme and each enterprise –  in order to formulate and implement a refined investment road-map.

o    Implementation: To polish existing implementation mechanism in all the Development Fronts for higher effectiveness and to especially expedite the review of programmes and modalities underway to match the decisive contributions of our citizens in the Diaspora.

o    Ensuring efficiency and effectiveness: to strengthen the relentless fight against corruption and speculation.

o    Regional partnership and stability: to actively create a conducive regional climate for mutual respect and genuine partnership that enhance domestic development programmes.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The above listed programmes are not new.  Comprehensive revision of the detailed programmes and implementing them within the framework of the new era cannot be accomplished through simplistic solutions and short-cuts.  They will depend, as always, on the full participation of our people and their relentless toil and resilience.   This will not be difficult as the inherent values and traditions of resilience – encapsulated in the mantra of “Resilience through Resilience”  – is intact as ever.

As it has been the case throughout our history, and more so in this present era, there are those who are exemplary in their selfless dedication; who give their all without any reward; and, who give us moral gratification.  I avail of this occasion to express our profound gratitude to all these exceptional people, who work the most and hardest, and to members and leaders of our Defense Forces”.

Resilience for Higher Progress!

Our Progress will continue with good rains!

And above all, Glory to our Martyrs!

Victory to the Masses!

May 24, 2019 News

Source: IMF

Eritrea: International Monetary Fund (IMF) Staff completes 2019 Article IV Mission

Eritrea is in a difficult economic situation following an extended period of international isolation and emergency measures to manage the economy

Eritrea farmingWASHINGTON D.C., United States of America, May 22, 2019/APO Group/ — 

The peace agreement with Ethiopia and lifting of international sanctions provide a welcome opportunity for Eritrea to build an impetus for economic development; Eritrea is in a difficult economic situation following an extended period of international isolation and emergency measures to manage the economy; the IMF stands ready to support economic reforms through policy advice, technical assistance and training to help achieve macroeconomic stability and inclusive growth.

An International Monetary Fund (IMF) team, led by Bhaswar Mukhopadhyay, held discussions in Asmara from May 13–22, 2019 on the Article IV Consultation with Eritrea, the first such discussions in 10 years. At the conclusion of the mission, Mr. Mukhopadhyay issued the following statement:

“Eritrea has just emerged from twenty years of conflict with Ethiopia and a decade of sanctions imposed by the international community. The war and then international isolation deprived the country of vital investment, trading opportunities and external support, and have left the economy in a difficult situation. The peace agreement with Ethiopia and lifting of international sanctions provide a welcome opportunity to build an impetus for economic development and to begin implementing much needed reforms.

Eritrea’s economy is dominated by agriculture and mining and is highly vulnerable to shocks

“The information base of economic developments in Eritrea has deteriorated, and the conditions prevailing in the country have given rise to data and capacity constraints. Nonetheless, the mission received useful information to better understand the macroeconomic situation and capacity development needs in Eritrea.

“Eritrea’s economy is dominated by agriculture and mining and is highly vulnerable to shocks. Most of its population is engaged in rain-fed subsistence agriculture, which is exposed to repeated droughts. Data estimates show that GDP fell sharply in 2017, driven by the regional drought. Real GDP growth is expected to have recovered in 2018.

“In recent years, policies have tried to adapt to the difficult conditions prevailing in the country. A sustained period of high fiscal deficits—reversed over the past three years—has led to a heavy public debt burden, the banking sector is vulnerable and foreign exchange is scarce. Notwithstanding such economic pressures, the Eritrean authorities have made remarkable progress on some development goals, notably in the health and education sector, and prioritized public investment in the earlier years.

“Looking ahead, the near-term outlook for real GDP growth is challenging due to the tight fiscal situation and existing restrictions on economic activity. Over the medium-term prospects for a pick-up in growth are promising, including due to new mining projects coming on stream. Policies to restore the health of the fiscal and financial sectors will be central to ensuring macroeconomic stability and broader economic reforms will help to deliver inclusive development.

“The mission team expresses its gratitude to the authorities for their warm hospitality and the productive discussions. The IMF stands ready to assist the authorities in the implementation of their economic policies, including through the provision of technical assistance, and looks forward to continuing the policy dialogue.”

The mission met with the Minister of Finance, Minister of Health, Minister of Tourism, the Minister of National Development, the Minister of Agriculture, the Acting Central Bank Governor and other senior government officials as well as representatives of the banking sector and international partners.

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of International Monetary Fund (IMF).