Summary by Makeda Saba
Yesterday (07.02.2020) EriTV broadcast an interview with President Isaias (Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki Interview Part 1 (February 7, 2020) | EastAFRO.com) . According to East.Afro.com– this is part 1 and part 2 is expected to be broadcast Sunday 09.02.2020.
In line with the style that President Isaias has established for himself this is not an interview it is more like a 2.5-hour lecture that the 2 reporters are required to listen to sitting ramrod straight.
The interview is noteworthy for what is does NOT cover in 2.5 hours:
Political Reform in Eritrea:
o Constitution implementation
o Recall of the National Assembly
o Demobilisation Strategy
o End of Grade 12 in Sawa
o Release of political prisoners, prisoners of conscience
o The role of Abraham Afwerki in the Government of Eritrea
o Presence of UAE and Saudi military bases in Assab
Economic Reform in Eritrea:
o Strategy for independent small business
o Youth employment (free from National Service)
o Food security – the high level of malnutrition of Eritrean children
o Financial Reforms
Progress on Ethiopia Eritrea peace process and specifically:
o The Economic and Security arrangement –
o Ethiopia access to Massawa and Assab
o Road connection with Ethiopia
President Isaias interview is focused on:
o UNHCR continued facilitation of Eritrean Refugees
o How South Sudan should never have separated from Sudan
According to President Isaias:
“There never was a border dispute with Ethiopia, the war was orchestrated by TPLF Junta, bolstered up by External Henchmen to further their agenda. “ (https://twitter.com/samueltukue/status/1225924576661602304?s=20 )
“…. The main spoiler in Ethiopia is still the TPLF Gang. Ethiopians need to make the right choice. Thinking they can change the mindset of the TPLF is futile. They particularly need to be aware of the motives of outsiders.” (https://twitter.com/samueltukue/status/1225926539537256449?s=20 ) In this case I note that he is not considering Eritrea or the Eritrean Government as one of the interfering ‘outsiders’ that Ethiopia has to be aware of.
“…. TPLF, even as it finds itself immersed in total bankruptcy, has and continues to engage in an act of an all-out destructiveness. This should not derail Eritrea and Ethiopia from the path of peace, solidarity and prosperity.” (https://twitter.com/samueltukue/status/1225935090267643906?s=20 )
The President refers to the Ethnic Federalism in Ethiopia as led by a narrow group (i.e. TPFL) as bankrupt and in need of reform he states: “We call it game over, and the Ethiopians have said enough.” He refers to the TPLF as the impediment finalising the issue of the Bademe border. He is of the view that the TPLF continues to be threat for Eritrea, it is working to divide Eritrean along ethnic lines and it continues to build refugee camps for Eritrean, and to collaborate with UNHCR to entice Eritrean youth out of the country, contributing to the brain drain of the country. He accuses the TPLF for the continued failure to finalise the issue of Bademe.
In a report – Eritrea: National Service, exit and entry (https://drc.ngo/media/5624986/country_report_eritrea_2020.pdf) – reports that according to their sources the Eritrean Government considers the:
“Other sources suggest that the Eritrean government is reluctant to demobilise conscripts from national service because of external concerns. These concerns are related to the Tigray region in Ethiopia and the Muslim Brotherhood in Sudan. According to five Western Diplomats, it is a concert for the Eritrean leadership how the ruling party in the Tigray regional state, TPLF will react to the new situation following peace agreement. TPLF is perceived to be a state within the state and will not necessarily follow the federal government of Ethiopia.”
IGAD and Regional influence
Following recent meeting between PM Abiy, President of Somalia Foramajo and President Isaias the three leaders agreed to work towards regional integration a Horn of Africa coalition referred to as a ‘Cushitic Alliance ‘ (https://www.theeastafrican.co.ke/news/africa/Eritrean-president-floats-regional-bloc-idea—/4552902-5441802-12c3n3z/index.html) .
According to the Garowe ONLINE editorial (https://www.theeastafrican.co.ke/news/africa/Eritrean-president-floats-regional-bloc-idea—/4552902-5441802-12c3n3z/index.html) the three leaders indicated that they may invite other partners to the Alliance and though these were not names it is likely : “…..[these] will come from the neighbourhood , meaning Djibouti, Sudan, South Sudan …… [or] even countries from across the Arabian Peninsula.”
Such a coalition would overlap extensively with the role presently exercised by IGAD an institution that President Isaias want to replace and which, in his interview, he refers to as a: “. puppet organisation …. remotely controlled by global powers…”
During the interview President Isaias explains that given the ethnic divisions and conflict in Ethiopia, it is not possible for Eritrea to stand by and do nothing.