Eritrean tanks surround mutineers

2013-01-21 18:53
Residents of Eritrea's capital, Asmara, cross a street near an apartment complex. (Peter Martell, AFP)

Residents of Eritrea's capital, Asmara, cross a street near an apartment complex. (Peter Martell, AFP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Nairobi - Eritrean army tanks besieged the information ministry in central Asmara on Monday after some 200 mutineers seized the building to call for political reform, diplomatic and diaspora sources said on Monday.

No shots had been fired and the rest of the city appeared calm, the diplomats added, although very few details were immediately available.

"The ministry of information is under siege," a diplomat said.

Amanuel Ghirmai, an Eritrean journalist in Paris for independent Radio Erena, said that around a 100 army mutineers stormed the hill-top ministry - which towers over the capital of the Red Sea state - early on Monday morning.

They reportedly ordered news readers at the government-run television and radio station - the only source of media for the authoritarian state - to read a statement that they will implement the country's constitution.

The statement also reportedly ordered the release of prisoners of conscience.

"We do not know who is leading the situation... everybody has been put into the same room [in the ministry]," Amanuel said, adding that he had spoken to sources in Asmara.

Britain's foreign office updated its travel advice on Monday to say it had received reports of "unusual military movements in and around Asmara", without giving further details.

The reports were not possible to confirm independently, and all calls to government officials were not answered.

Worst

Impoverished Eritrea beats even North Korea to rank last out of 179 countries on the Press Freedom Index of the Paris-based media watchdog Reporters Without Borders.

All independent media was shut down after Issaias launched a draconian purge in 2001, while the Horn of Africa nation expelled the last registered foreign correspondent in 2010.

However, Eritrean expatriates who had spoken to compatriots in Asmara said they could confirm reports that troops had been deployed at the information ministry, and that state television Eri-TV had stopped broadcasting, they told AFP.

All Eritrea's public media are recorded and broadcast from the ministry.

"The local transmission has been cut, the only satellite signal is airing some archives," Amanuel added.

"Local radio and TV appear to have been shut down; we are seeking further information," Britain's foreign office added.

Eritrean President Issaias Afeworki has ruled the Horn of Africa nation with an iron grip from independence in 1993, following an epic 30-year liberation war from neighbouring Ethiopia.

Opposition banned

Opposition parties are banned and those who challenge the regime are jailed without trial, often in the harshest of conditions.

After 15 top officials wrote an open letter in 2001 calling for democratic reforms - dubbed the Group of 15, or G-15 - Issaias launched a brutal political purge, jailing 11 and with the others fleeing into exile.

It left Eritrea effectively under the control of army, usually veterans of the decades-long independence war with Ethiopia, with government ministers mostly sidelined from the seat of real power.

Religious minorities are also persecuted in Eritrea, which is officially split equally between Muslims and Christians.

Late last year Eritrea's information minister Ali Abdu, one of the closest of a narrow elite around Issaias, was reported to have fled the country for exile abroad.

He is believed to have not returned to Eritrea after travelling to Europe in September, with many opposition reports - including one closely connected to his family - claiming he had fled to Canada.

- SAPA
Read more on:    issaias afeworki  |  eritrea  |  east africa
NEXT ON NEWS24X
SHARE:

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
0 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining
 

Inside News24

 
SPONSORED CONTENT
When is a mountain more than just a mountain? 2014-12-18 07:26

When it’s an adventure! A group of Old Mutual employees found out how much is enough courage, endurance and camaraderie to take on Africa's highest peak.

/News
 

Five wrapping hacks you have to know before Christmas

Five gift wrapping hacks that will save Christmas for you!

 
 

I love summer.24

Sexiest Instagrams of 2014
Joburg hot spots for cocktails, craft beer, tapas and wine!
Summer Survey!
Great ideas for the best summer sandwiches!

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

Grand Theft Auto 5

Now available on PS4, Xbox One and PC from R649. Buy now!

Festive gifts!

Check out our awesome range of festive gifts to make everyone’s wishes come true. Shop now!

Save on Samsung

Cameras, mobile phones, TVs, Tablets and more. While stocks last. Shop now!

Save up to R2200 on electronics! – As seen in the catalogue

Wishing for tech gadgets this festive? Save up to R2100 on hot tech products at kalahari.com. While stocks last. Shop now!

30% off the bestselling books

Save big on the most captivating reads of 2014. While stocks last. Shop now!

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

The energy today is serious, materialistic and hardworking. You may find you get a new outlook on things and you may want to spend...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.








Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.