Eritrea’s President Isaias Afwerki said renewed accusations that Asmara is arming Somalia’s Islamist rebels was the work of CIA agents in the region bent on blackening his government’s name.
“We don’t interfere (in
To the anger of
“It’s CIA operatives … these people are liars,” Isaias, a former rebel commander in power since 1991, said during an interview at
“This is a continuation of the old story. I know for sure, even the individuals behind these things. I don’t want to talk about that because it would poison the whole mood.”
“It is too early to judge,” Isaias said, acknowledging that
“This is a transition, a very difficult transition. We need to be patient. It may take a long time.”
Isaias said the new government of
“Leave this for the Somalis,” he said.
President Sheikh Sharif Ahmed, a moderate Islamist, became
“This is the mentality of a gambler,” Isaias said of the repeated attempts to set up a transitional Somali government with Western backing.
“This so-called government is not a government in terms of legitimacy. It cannot even influence one very small neighbourhood in
Risking further criticism from the West,
Isaias, like other African leaders, said the case was politically motivated and risked further destabilising
“Whether he is guilty until proven innocent, or innocent until proven guilty, is another matter. It is a legal matter. That is an issue for extensive discussion,” he said.
“It is purely a political case, it has no legality at all … It doesn’t serve any purpose for the people of
Isaias said the West was not showing the same clamour for justice in other places, such as
“The government did not allow journalists to go there, they did not allow relief agencies to even operate freely in that very small area,” he said of recent events in
Eritrea’s long-running border dispute with Ethiopia, where the two lost tens of thousands of men in a 1998-2000 war, has taken a back seat in the headlines of late, with no reports of clashes and rhetoric quieter on both sides.
Asked if that meant
“I will never take any risk … We retain the allocation of our resources in spite of the bitterness we have about it. We have no other option, unless we fully guarantee and see things have changed for good.”
Afwerki on the Great Recession
Afwerki believes the financial crisis is a welcome restructuring of the global economic order and vindication of
The former Marxist guerrilla leader has ruled one of Africa’s smallest economies since its 1993 formal independence from
“The good thing about it is that the global economic situation is in the process of transformation,” the 63-year-old told Reuters in an interview yesterday.
“It is a wake-up call to many who have been preaching ideals about the functioning of economies in their own ways and trying to substitute real economy for finance and speculation … what I call the speculative economy or the economy of speculation.”
“For us, it’s a moral boost, because for the last 18 years, we’ve been focusing on the real economy — roads, ports, airports, electricity, water, housing, services, health, education, food security. Not a single penny has been wasted.
“It may not have accumulated the critical mass required for jump-starting the economy, but we have been investing and accumulating all along.”
Few African economies were as well-prepared to weather the crisis, he said. “There may be good examples. People talk about
Talk of an imminent recovery by some world leaders was false prophesy, he said. “They are preoccupied with micro-managing panic … (so) you tell people lies.
“You see every day, on TV or the Internet, that ‘stock markets are reviving, stock markets are doing this and that’ when the real economy is not improving, employment is higher, real estate is going down, the car industry is collapsing.”
Isaias acknowledged hardships for Eritreans, but said the government was subsidising food and oil, while some communities were simply moving from arid areas.
“In comparison to the neighbours, I can say we are better off. I don’t want to exaggerate this. Yes, we have some areas that are badly hit,” he said, acknowledging that a “very little” food aid was coming in, including from
Aid sources say child malnutrition rates are up alarmingly in
Few hard statistics are known about
“There is nothing there … (though) at one point in time, I was there, to see the sea full of jelly-fish!
“We will have to create opportunities rather than create distorted images … And we are on the right track.”
Speaking anonymously, some Eritreans grumbled at worsening poverty, particularly in rural areas, while others said their leader’s long-term view was the right one. “He gets a lot of criticism from abroad, but he’s not emptying the budget into his pockets, like everywhere else in