Eritrea: Situation on the Ground Report Part 2 - Rumors of health deterioration, secret meetings and possible scenarios

Almost a month and half after President Isaias Afwerki has disappeared from the eyes of the public, the rumor mills in Asmara have been working overtime. We have been receiving various reports, sometimes conflicting of one another, regarding the disappearance and its effects on the top brass. But here is what we find to be consistent among them:

There is no doubt that the President is seriously ill. Already, he has been out of out of public eye more than any time before since the time he held the Office of Presidency. Even if he comes out of this latest liver attack, given that this has become a recurrent phenomenon, people in Asmara seriously doubt that he would be capable of holding on to power for long. Many also believe that he will not survive it this time, expecting his death soon. And this not simply wishful thinking; the unusual commotion among the top government authorities has been taken among the public ominous of what is to come.

There have been continuous meetings among the top officials of defense, PFDJ and security. The following recognizable names have been mentioned as the ones who often disappear from the public or their homes to conduct these frequently held supposedly secret meetings:

Yemane Gebreab
General Sebhat Efrem
Major General Filipos Weldeyohanes
Hagos Kisha      
Yemane Gebremeskel
Brigader General Abraha Kassa
Major General Teclai Habteslassie
Minister Weldemichael Abraha

The public has interpreted this unusual meetings held in absence of President Isaias Afwerki that the health of the Head of State is in critical situation, and that they are preparing themselves for the worst eventualities. It is as if these higher officials are always in stand by. In a country where there are no clear guidelines on succession, this has further raised the fear that the country might be heading towards a civil strife.

The strife that the people have in mind differs from what the analysts have been warning. The fear is that the death of the President might ignite a power struggle within the old guards themselves, and the divide that they have in mind is between the Isaias loyalists and the disgruntled ones.

The Isaias loyalists’ groups would include the above mentioned one made up of top officials from defense, PFDJ and security. Another group would be the fanatic executers of the boss’s orders, and hence known criminals with blood in their hands (some of whom are mentioned in the above group):

Major General Filipos Weldeyohanes
Major General Teklay Habteslase
Brigader General Abraha Kasa
Brigader General Tecle (Mangus)
Colonel Simon Gebredingel
Colonel Fetsum (Wedi Memhir)
Colonel Tsehaye Mokonen (Mechanized Brigade)
Colonel Tesfaldet (Chief of Security)
Colonel Teame (Wedi Mekelle)
Melake  Wedi Futwerari,  Eritrean Navy Commander

And then there are the main puppets, who have remained so loyal to the boss that they have escaped the “frozen” status to remain fully employed as ministers and other high offices in the often reshuffled seats:

General Sebhat Efrem, Minister of defence
Major General Haile Samuel (China)
Minister Salma Hassen, Minister of Human Welfare
Minister Amna Nurhussen. Minister of Health
Minister Askalu Menkorios, Minister of Tourism
Minister Fozia Hashim, Minister of Justice
Minister Giorgis, Minister of Development
Tesfai China, Minister of Land
Minister Abraha Asfaha (public works)
Doctor Woldai Futur
Tsgereda Weldegiorgis, Northern Red Sea administrator
Giorgis Haile, Administrator of Zoba Anseba
Colonel Woldu Baria, Asha Golgel Garage Director  (Logistics) (#1 Corrupted official)
Yemane Tesfai, Bank Director
Brigade Genral Romodan Awliyay (Sport)

Opposed to the loyalist groups mentioned above are the disgruntled ones who had been very humiliated by the regime, and ended up “frozen”. Some of those are:

Tahir Baduri former UN Abasador oif eritrea Stranded from job for almost 12 years
Abdu Heji former ERI Tv Arabic news program and Eritrean Ambasador in Pakistan
Alamin (Wedi Shiek), former Zoba Anseba Administrator
Tekie Beyene, former governor of Bank of Eritrea
Tekeste,  former Asmara airport management director
Paulos Kahsay, former Civil Aviation Director
Wedi Andu, former Massawa city administrator
Musa Raba, former police commissioner and Zoba Gash Barka administrator
Tesfankiel Sherifo (Hamdan) former Asmara & Assab zoba vice-administrator
Romodan Moehammed Nur, former EPLF leader

This list gets even more interesting and much longer when it includes many different army commanders and different public administrators, showing how pervasive the “midiskal” phenomenon has been from the top to the bottom. Those who have been out of work as a result of midiskal have been complaining bitterly that the nation is being run by incompetent yes men, and it is more that the challenge to the loyalists will come from this group.