“I am lucky, I enjoy robust health”, said Eritrean President Isaias Afewerki in an appearance on the state EriTV, setting aside rumours of the past weeks of his apparent death, explaining his absence from the public scene as due to a series of “appointments abroad”.
In an interview of about half an hour, the President defined the “baseless rumours” as “cheap propaganda” orchestrated by people who aim “to destabilise the nation”.
After his TV appearance, the exiled opposition Red Sea Afar Democratic Organisation (RSADO) was forced to admit that President Afewerki is alive, insisting however on the fact that “his health is rapidly deteriorating”. The opposition movements abroad are convinced that his absence of a few weeks from the public scene was a result of his hospitalisation in Qatar, where he apparently received medical treatment.
Opposition sources claim that Asmara’s strongman is suffering from serious liver ailments worsened by alcohol abuse. The speculation of the past days on his health sparked a debate on who would replace him. Though Afewerki has no designated successor, the opposition fears power could go to his son Abraham, while US diplomatic cables released by WikiLeaks indicate fears of the possibility of a coup by military elite aiming to take over power in the Red Sea state.
Rumours on his death began circulating in the country and abroad after his absence from the public scene of about a month.