He is critically ill. He is dying. No he isn’t, he’s in excellent health: these are the contradictory reports emerging on blogs, opposition sites and TV channels in regard to the health of Eritrea’s Isaias Afewerki, strongman of Asmara, who has headed the nation with an iron-fist since 1993. Rumours on his sudden hospitalisation abroad, maybe in the Arab Emirates, and even his sudden death, are further fuelled by the absence over the past weeks of the President on the public scene. An unusual event, followed by a flurry of rumours, which authorities deemed necessary to deny various times in the past 72 hours, even on the state TV.
Two statements were released by the Information ministry between yesterday and last night, denying reports on the sudden death of the President, defining the rumours as “a defamatory campaign of the CIA” aimed at destabilising the country.
Sources in Asmara refer notable tension among state authorities and meetings between generals closest to the President. Opposition groups residing abroad over the past weeks reported a sudden deterioration of Afewerki’s health from a tumour of the liver and his urgent hospitalisation in Qatar.