Eritrea President Isaias Afewerki in TV spot to dispel health rumors


President of Eritrea Isaias Afewerki (L) chats with Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo (C) and Ghanaian President John Agyekum Kufuor (R) following a two-day China-Africa summit in Beijing in November 2006.



Eritrean President Isaias Afewerki has made an appearance on national television to quash rumors that he is dead or ailing after days of absence from public view.

In an interview broadcast late Saturday on state-run EriTV, Afewerki, 66, said he enjoyed “robust health,” and accused those peddling stories to the contrary of being “sick” themselves and waging psychological warfare to “disturb the people.”

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Information Minister Ali Abdu told the BBC that the rumors, which began circulating about a week ago after the president failed to make his normally regular TV appearances, were the work of groups seeking to destabilize Eritrea.

Earlier this week the government accused the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) of being the “rumor monger” behind the claims and of spreading “lies” about Isaias’ health, the Sudan Tribune reports.

Afewerki, who has ruled Eritrea since it secured independence from Ethiopia in 1993, has rebuffed calls to implement democratic reforms in the Horn of Africa nation.

The country’s exiled opposition has said repeatedly that the president is suffering from a serious ailment and has been receiving medical treatment in Qatar, with which Eritrea shares close ties, according to Reuters

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