Since two days ago, some voices on a military coup in Eritrea have been heard. A group of dissent soldiers has occupied the Information Ministry, closing the emission of the only official TV station (Eri-TV) and broadcasting a message on the liberation of political prisoners and the implementation of the country’s Constitution. Some people might have been imprisoned, namely family members of Eritrea’s president Afwerki. Some commented that the central bank and the airport of the capital city were also subdued to military occupation, yet some twitter testimonies refer that Asmara is very quiet, this being an issue explored by absent experts on Horn of Africa’s matters. The TV station went back on air on the same evening and the government is still in power, nonetheless Afwerki, as also some of his loyal ministers, are far from the lights for many months now.
The news point that this event has possibly constituted a warning, not exactly a coup to depose Afwerki. The Eritrean president is in power since the country’s independence in 1993, no elections have been made since then, no external reports or associations are allowed and the country is at the bottom line in what regards the human rights, namely the freedom of expression. The discontent with this country’s situation has been clear in December 2012, when the Eritrean football team sought asylum in Uganda.
Eritrea fought a long-lasting war until its independence from Ethiopia. The country detains the former Ethiopian coast and is located in the passage from the Gulf of Aden to the Red Sea. This event occurred four days after the recognition of Somalia as a (non-failed) State by the USA, putting the Horn of Africa back in the international agenda and attention.
“Trouble in Asmara: Afwerki survives, but for how much longer?”, Daily Maverick, 22-01-2013
“Breaking News: Coup Attempt Is Said to Fail in Eritrea, 100 Rebellious soldiers controlled Eri-TV”, Yehabesha News, 22-01-2013
“Attempted military coup in Eritrea shuts down state TV: reports”, Albawaba News, 21-01-2013 (conducting to news from Asmarino.com and BBC-UK) http://www.albawaba.com/news/eritrea-coup-465341
“Eritrea: poche notizie certe, rilanci dai social media”, La Stampa, 22-01-2013
UPDATE: President Afwerki spoke about the military coup on the 8th February, admiting that it happened but considering there is no reason for being aprehensive. Besides, the access from Asmara to the Qatari TV news network Al Jazeera – that gave coverage to demonstrations held by exiled Eritreans in solidarity of the mutinous soldiers – has been blocked. Nothing is known about the dissent soldiers.