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Some Senior Eritrean Officials Taking Risky Steps

On June 5, 2018 PM Abiy announced his government’s acceptance of the Algiers Agreement that was signed between Eritrea and Ethiopia in 2000. The Agreement followed a two-year devastating border war in which about 100,000 lives were lost and hundreds of thousands of people from the two countries were displaced from their villages and towns.

Prime Minister Abyi’s announcement was followed by his visit to Asmara on July 8, 1018. A week later, Isaias Afwerki reciprocated by visiting Ethiopia.

After almost two-decades of tense relations between Ethiopia and Eritrea, and the peace overtures that were announced seemed to usher a quick normalization and that the border would be demarcated for a lasting peace in the region. In addition, the media hype set the expectation of the people of the two countries so high, particularly after the Ethiopian national carrier started regular flights to Asmara.

In its maiden flight to Amara after almost two-decades, Ethiopian Airlines carried many hopeful “investors” who traveled to Asmara to explore investment opportunities. However, the investors reported they were disappointed by the receptions and cooperation they got from Eritrean officials. Many of them complained of the disorganized and poor information system as well as the absence of clear investment laws.

Sources told Gedab News that the frustration of the Ethiopian investors was due to the silent protest of the Eritrean public officials.

On June 25, 2018, an Eritrean delegation led by Yemane Gebreab, the president’s political adviser, and Osman Saleh, the foreign minister, traveled to Addis Ababa to make arrangements for Dr. Abiy’s visit to Asmara, and Isaias’ visit to Addis Ababa.

When Isaias traveled to Addis Ababa, many senior officials of the government and commanders of the security forces were asked to accompany him. However, they were not happy with the way Isaias was making individual decisions without consulting anyone else. However, in an uncharacteristic step, many officials made risky excuses to avoid traveling with Isaias.

At least two military commanders pretended to be sick and stayed in bed to avoid traveling with the president. Only a few officials, including Yemane Gebreab, Osman Saleh, Askalu Menkerios, Fozia Hashim, and the president’s security details, accompanied Isaias Afwerki, a small group compared to the large entourage that accompanied PM Abiy.

Would-be Ethiopian investors arrived in Asmara when most officials purposely left their offices or pretended to be sick, or out of town and the junior officers could not provide them with the investment-related information they required.

The silent protest continues with many officials refusing to cooperate and keep making excuses not to see visitors.

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  • David Samson

    Selam abdulworld,
    I, too, was fed the same crap. please read below my exchange with Berhe.
    As it getting late on my part of the world, I will say more about about Khmer and Polpot tomorrow.

  • Hameed Al-Arabi

    Ahlan Awates,

    Primarily, I want to underline that 31st August 2018 is a must that all Eritreans in Europe to participate. It is the voice of our people and national interests; nothing has to do with our differences in minor demands. I guess, we forward our demands to an existing nation not mirage.

    Secondly, I would like to speak about 1st September 2018 program:

    I think all of us conceive, the Eritrean people suffer from chronic diseases. These diseases gave birth to colonization of Ethiopia, splits of fronts and at last gave birth to the worst dictatorship on earth, at least in our contemporary history. It is a regime condemned by international community for its crimes against humanity. The problem is not toppling the regime, but on our chronic ailments.

    All of us remember many initiatives failed. The reason is very simple, they were not courageous enough to face the deep-seated problems and solve them. The only thing they excel at is to escape forward to the problems; they postpone our problems to the future. Initiators have failed to comprehend our people have passed through these experiences and are still fresh in their minds. Solutions are required not postponing of our problems to the future.


    Any initiators who wish to rally the people should follow Dr. Abie Ahmed as a sample. Dr. Abie Ahmed has declared his program, solutions to all problems of Ethiopia, from day one. He didn’t postpone their problems to future debates. His declaration has overwhelmed the people of Ethiopia with hope. In Eritrea we want a body that implant hope of getting rid from all our chronic diseases and a clearly defined roadmap. If initiators of 1st September 2018 have no courage to face our problems and a well defined roadmap, then don’t waste your time.

    Besides, what I stated above I would like to propose to initiators of 1st September 2018 the following:

    a) To adopt the Awassa congress roadmap with changes they see appropriate to accommodate the remaining groups of our people.

    b) To convert the national congress to a senate, and to elect a revolutionary council (as executive body) from well skilled youth.

  • David Samson

    Hi Gents(SAAY, Berhe and Abdul),

    We appeared to have lost in translation with the phrase ‘Drop out’.

    Within Ethiopian context:

    Students who have passed their Matriculation exams will join University to pursue a four-year degree course. Those who were lucky enough might find jobs in a private sector, but majority of graduates ended up employed in a government sector.

    Since there was hardly private sector in Ethiopia, the government was the largest employer. Although it was not government official policy, it was widely believed and interpreted that the government had its own quotas on the number of graduates it can take up every year. This quota had a positive correlation with the number of annual graduates. If a university has taken 500 students as undergraduates, a government might not be able to find jobs for all of them. This was where the chopping of students starts. Every semester (6 months), students sit for an exam. If a student fails, he re-sits, and if his grades falls below 2GP, he is out. In fact, the word commonly used is ‘Dismissed’. You are told to pack up his belongings, escorted like a criminal, nowhere to be seen on the campus again. You are basically being humiliated; you are not only letting down yourself, but your family too. Some people commit suicide because they fell their only chance in life to make a living is gone for good. I know students who were dismissed with only last semester left before graduation.

    I believe IA is not a college ‘drop out’. He was DISMISSED from a university because he failed his exams, while Bill Gates, Zuckerberg are left college out of their free will.

    There is a huge difference between some one who leaves his studies because of reasons other than being forced to and someone who is not bothered with academic world.

    • Paulos

      Selam David,

      I say, it is a crime to dismiss a young person in his or her prime time where more often than not nervous breakdown sets in or causes a self harm. What does even mean to fail a f#*@ing exam? One could fail it for myriad reasons where one among others could be anxiety or mental fatigue for that matter.

      Some students are not terribly smart but they know how to take an exam in the sense that they hustle through either cheating or are good at exam taking. And you have really brainy students but they suck at exam taking. And the f#*&ing BS system rewards the d*mb and a hustler and punishes the smart to the unknown.

      • David Samson

        Selam Paulos,
        You are right!
        As I said in my previous posts, IA might have failed his exams due to lack of concentration. He probably was immersed on ‘Des Capita’ and totally ignored his studies.

        If he was a stupid student, he would not have passed his Matriculation exams. Mind you, the exams at the time was prepared and tested by a board in England. It was not multiple-choice questions where one can easily plagiarise from the next door brainy student.

        That being said, there is a stigma and shame attached to student who is unable to make it.

        • Paulos


          Isaias is highly intelligent person. There is no doubt about that. He failed the exam for a reason only known to him. I personally know a couple of brainy Asmarinos who failed the Christmas exam and were sent back to Asmara humiliated and suffered a major nervous breakdown as a result. And as you know, in Asmara, news spread like a wildfire where the people out of sheer ignorance are not supportive of the person but aggravate the situation even further. It is a society where talking to yourself out of intense stress in life is taken as a serious mental illness where the buzz word is ንሱ’ዳኣ ከይዳቶ’ንድያ በይኑ’ንድዩ ክዛረብ ጀሚሩ።

          • Alfaromeo

            Hello Paulos,
            What is intelligence if one doesn’t use it for the betterment of himself and society in general. He is, according many who know him not intelligent, but a fox in a rather foxy way to your surprise. Not the way many portrayed him as in the early 1991s. Believe me as we were in uoa they were telling us ” ኢሰያስ ብካላሽን ጌሩ አብመንደቅ ሽሙ ዝጽሕፋ ሰብ እዩ” they told us and how foolish we were, we believed that. Exaggeration has no limits in Eritrea!!!

            We believed every $..t they told us. One day a teacher i think he was from Zambia or something, he said all those who come to power by the power of the gun, they don’t leav power without force, and history may repeat in Eritrea. We were all mad at him and we argued we have the African experience, and we are not like the African countries…bla..bla…

            Nobody had the slightest idea that we would be even the worst of all African countries….no one had the slightest idea we were going to be duped in such a painful way!

          • Paulos

            Selam Alfaromeo,

            Only one person can be a President. And Isaias was able to see himself climbing to the highest monopoly of power the nation has ever seen. The question is obviously obvious where one can argue against the path he took to snatch power. Irrespective of the morality or lack thereof, he was able to outsmart everyone who aspired for the same spot. The key word is outsmart and one is compelled to read that as intelligence. Remember, one of the common narrative of psychopathy is owning high level of intelligence.

        • Berhe Y

          Hi David,

          I have heard that IA was dismissed and that’s the reason he went to meda. It was widely believed that he was studying engineering but as it turned out, he was enrolled in science program. This is not significant piece of information but I do wonder why is it so difficult to verify and have accurate information. I am assuming the AAU have all that document somewhere and it was not possible to access it? or he destroyed it in his canning ways…

          One thing for sure is, IA has contempt for people with education.


          • David Samson

            Selam Berhe,

            There are many myths surrounding IA’s personalities. I grew up hearing the followings:

            IA was a distinguished student who topped his department during first year at university. Even students who went to the same uni during the late 80s still had believed this crap.

            During early 90s, I used to read newspapers such as Monitor and Tobia. At first, I thought the papers were trying to defame our beloved leader and did not want to believe a word of them. The reporters dug in the files at Addis university and found out his records. This was also the same time when Wedi Georgo was gunned down by IA’s hitmen.

            IA was a military genius who can capture a tank with his bare hands, was the second myth. I am sure you remember the songs about him.
            Now, the same Tegadeltis who told us about this military genius did a ‘U’ turn: IA had never led any major battles. In fact, Yemane, who now lives in Germany, told us that IA was not even in meda during the final offence.

            I always say, there are must be two IAs or two parts to him. I do not know and can’t comment over part one, as I was not there. However, this part 2 of IA is nothing more a ‘Phony’ chap. People who were with the part 1 of IA must have seen some qualities on him to make him a leader. Did you watch at the millennium hall when IA and Aby were caught off the mic? A leader of a country was begging his counterpart not to embarrass him in front of a crowd. This block is out of his depth and should have been relived his duties long time ago.

          • Berhe Y

            Hi David,

            I didn’t believe the story of him “writing his name with kalashin, but I ddin’t think it hard, to believe it was impossible”. I guess I was just picturing…he would use the kalashin as a pen and while shooting he would spell his name. You know the texas kind of movies we use to see growing up…how they sharp shoot everything.

            I do remember the songs..Isayas aFeworkin tekelakay tanki and all the “enda Tiz” dance craze on every corner…

            For me personally (I had a big sabatical from Eritrean politics in the 90s) as I was busy with school and stuff and didn’t know what was going on mostly. I got replugged back in 98 after the war, and I have not missed much since.

            In 2001 when he arrested the G-15 is when I really lost all respect with him. After the 2nd werar, when he we lost Badime and he said “meKalif geTimuna”, I thought he needed to resign. He never made sense to me, through out the negotiation why he didn’t try hard to always corner Ethiopia by accepting all what they asked for and giving them no excuses. For him not to predict the 3rd offence and the price we paid and when the names were announced 19K….and he said, “Alem kigrem eya” I had not ideas what he meant…..probably it was a small price for him to pay.

            Still since the imp of the constitution and holding election was schedualed for 2001 Dec, I thought it was worth to wait.

            But I didn’t expect he would go this far in eliminating the G-15 and get away with it. What’s even so surprising to me was, how on earth the Eritrean people have accepted it and allowed him to continue, be those inside the country and those in Diaspora.

            I don’t know how they don’t see HUGE problem with it and some people continue to just move on with their lives.

            It really surprise to me as well, how those people who knew him close enough didn’t seen this coming…


      • Haile S.

        Selam Paul,
        From each according to his ability, to each accordingly, his passing certificate.
        ሎሚ ዘመን’ሲ እንድዕኒ
        እዝነይ ከፊቱ ገለ ከስምዓኒ 🙂 🙂

        • Paulos

          Selam Hailat,

          That is in theory not rule of thumb if you will. I am not saying, there shouldn’t be an exam or they should pass everyone. What I am saying is that there should be a safety mechanism where the student could fall back on instead of punishing the student to the extent of not having a future in the academia. As Foucault said it, the entire system of rewarding excellence and punishing failure is a crime!

          • Haile S.

            Selam Paul,

            I undrstand you. You are right. But the issue is complex. Some of the reasons why failure and dismissal from university was perceived as quasi-life ending were the absence of resources both at family and country level. At family level, sending one to the university was so expensive where once you go there, there was no alternative to success. At country level, when all vocational education is undetmined, sub-funded even closed, the only choice that remained to students of our generation was either to go to that University/colleges or Ghedi university. And there was no easy way of coming back home from both without completion. If you do, you become a coward (ወዶ-ገባ) and ostracized. I remember before the Eth revolution, a student who doesn’t feel like continuing higher education had the choice to go to vocational high school training like mechanics in ቀ.ሃ.ሥ. and end up getting hired as a good motor mechanic or go to the italian schools and become ጆመትራ. When all these were closed the only remainimg were the road to ሜዳ or to one of the 2 universities and the various colleges in the provimces. Consequently, the universities did not have alternatives other than to dismiss those that didn’t pass the criterias. The government?? You know….

          • Paulos

            Selam Hailat,

            I agree. It boils down to lack of resources. Having University degree was a game changer where the family life changes for better. It comes of course with a price where the student is under tremendous strain to make it through or suffer unbearable bust.

            In the final analysis, the government is responsible where employing sound social policy based on workable economic model in tandem with healthy political system fosters not only a productive citizen but investing in human capital becomes an asset not a liability. As you know, it is a complex web of event where every thing is inter-related. ንስኻ ተዘይትደፍኣኒ መን መጽደፈኒ not necessarily the person standing right behind you but including the person a mile long behind you. That is to say, there is no an isolated incident.

      • Berhe Y

        Hi Paulos,

        I think what you said is unfortunate but it’s the lack of enough available space to give the main reason. I remember I had a friend from S. Korea in the 90s and he come to Canada with his father (who worked in the embassy) placed for three years. He was one of the smartest guy that I know, specially math and science. And he use to tell me, how lucky he is to come to Canada and he was able to attend a couple of years at Canadian university and he was able to join a university in Korea by bypassing the matriculation.

        He said to pass that exam is so difficult and for most families it’s a matter of life a death not only for the student but for the whole family,. He said, at the time they had about 200 students commit suicide every year for failing to make it to the university.

        Fast forward to Eritrea, the story is the opposite. After 2001, students were failing purposely in high school in order to avoid going to Sawa. I have family members who repeated 9 at least three times, until they were thrown out of the high school. Then they go to private school (end mariam) and repeat again and again.

        Then the government come up with “smart idea” and they decided not to fail any student all together, so they make it until grade 11 and ship them all to Sawa.


        • Paulos

          Selam Berhino,

          I absolutely agree. In India, it is the most palpable where the government is aggressively campaigning where self harm is not the answer.

          That said, that is precisely the reason policy makers are pushing for Basic Universal Income where to the very least, one shouldn’t go to school to make a career out of necessity but out of the need to fullfil one’s calling in life.

          I am still laughing about failing multiple times to avoid Sawa. Smarting up to fail school is paradoxical par excellence.

          • Berhe Y

            Hi Paulino,

            I don’t want to change the topic to BUI but I think countries could afford Basic Universal Income do not have the problem of over competition where the students harm themselves if they fail exams.

            This usually happens on third world countries, as David said, the government is the major employer with little or non existent private sector. I am assuming because of S. Korea economic boom since the 90s…I don’t think they have this type of problems any more, or it may have significantly reduced.

            I think with economic development and the rise of the private sector (mainly small business) eventually the problem will fix it self as people have choices/ alternatives. But not if the IMF get’s involved, which will suck every sector of the economy to service the debt and the government have no means to lend money to small business to start businesses.

            There is nothing I despise more than the banking sector…..these whole breaking Africa to 54 states were designed to weaken each country from creating a single currency that will allow them to finance their own development but rather depend on the west to finance them and eventually control them. Basically it’s a form of colonization from remote, in fact it’s much easier now. The give you virtual money that they control and print and they get in return all the resources for free. And the amount of debt they have (like the US 18 trillion dollars), who cares..the US dollar is still the strongest currency…..


          • Paulos


            I absolutely agree! That is a very smart argument. Well said ma bro!

  • Berhe Y

    Dear Abdulworld,

    I apologize if I distorted what you said, was not intentional.

    When you gave the Cambodia example, I understand what you meant.

    Thanks for engaging.


  • Berhe Y

    Dear Abdulworld,

    First I like to thank you for the long email you replied. I didn’t have a chance to respond back, but I think some of your reply does fit to the discussion at hand Re: Eritrea’s future.

    Not that to beat the issue but the apprehension you feel and the reservation that you have towards Eritrean ability to run a successful democratic institution, that I think you need to visit / revisit history.

    Eritreans were able to transition and run the institutions in the country administration after Italians / British administration is one example that we can draw our capabilities. It’s the same why we are good at cycling because of long history (true PFDJ) has squandered it.

    In terms of Ghedli, I think the most glorified version of its history should be, how decipline the fighters and the leaders were. By this I mean, how careful and focused in targeting military establishment only without causing civilian or property damages. They treated the captured solidiers with dignity and without resorting to revenge, but kept the fight against the target only.

    This and many things like this are the result of how people are able to close the sad chapter and move forward to peace. Compared so many other independence fighters, I think our ghedli has a good legacy that we all should be proud of.

    Saay does not have admiration to IA. Him being collage drop out would not have mattered if he was running the country succefully. The example he gave, Gates and Jobs, not that he is comparing with their achievements but to show you that, people who drop out of collage can do great things.

    Like IA many out ghedli leaders have dropped out of collage to join the liberation. MZ for example have done the same thing.

    So I think the point he is making, the problem we have in Eritrea it’s not because IA is a collage dropout but that he is an evil.

    There are some ghedli generation who have achieved many despite spending so much of their fruitful lives in ghedli. Had out struggle not being hijacked by IA and company, I think we would be taking a different Eritrea now.

    I think the best thing is, let’s leave our perceived bias aside and let’s try to contribute with honesty and engage with clear minds without passing judgement.

    I consider our struggle to tyranny is very successful albeit failing a debt to the regime. I consider it successful because, we, all of us collectively (at least the majority of us) refused to pick up arms and shoot at our own brothers and sisters. We do not have bad blood (at least an exaggerated one) that would prevent us from fixing our issues and build on.

    And I think this is because of our legacy of peaceful resistance and even during armed we focused on specific target.

    I hope you take my advise / criticism in constructive way.


  • Blink

    Dear All
    The Geneva going ,while Haile TG and saay push for Pan-Eritrean conference, the experience we all have from different perspective is a big whole we have to fill in . The ethnic based groups, the religious based groups, the region based groups , all these has to narrow their differences just for the sake of Eritreans in General is a good dream . So what is new ? The new is an Eritrean free of weyane gathering should show no mercy to the old guards of the opposition as they are a rotten once who slept with their secret Labour Party dreams .Lets wait and see if we have chance to find new faces that can take power after PFDJ .