- The Eritrean government this week increased the verbal attacks against Sudan, claiming there was a Sudanese-Ethiopian plot to kill President Issayas Afewerki. Meanwhile, the country slips deeper into isolation as all borders are closed, aid flows are drying up and access to non-censored information gets further limited.
Eritrea's Information Minister Ali Abdu Ahmed on Monday enhanced the verbal warfare with eastern neighbour Sudan. The Khartoum government "continues to step up its attempts to disrupt peace and stability in Eritrea and the region by pursuing its process of government terrorism and assassination attempts against the President," claimed the Eritrean Minister.
The government of the Sudan, added Minister Abdu, had "tumbled into a marriage of convenience with the Addis Ababa regime by involving itself in an unholy alliance" against Eritrea. Eritrea remains at the brink of war with its southern neighbour, Ethiopia, after a UN monitored peace process stalled in 2002.
The Sudanese government has answered Asmara's allegations by stating that Eritrea's support for Sudanese rebels indeed demonstrated that it was Eritrea that wanted to topple the government in Khartoum, and not otherwise.
Relations between Khartoum and Asmara have been tense for many years, but started deteriorating gravely after the Eritrean regime turned isolationalist during last four years. Since 2002, Sudan has accused Eritrea of harbouring and training anti-Khartoum rebels - claims that are widely accepted by the international community. Consequently the neighbours' border has been closed since 2002.
Eritrea slowly has slipped into isolation after its ultra-nationalistic People's Front for Democracy and Justice (PFDJ) - the only legal party - turned authoritarian in the end-1990s. The 1998-2000 border war with Ethiopia strengthened President Afewerki's grip on the party, which he in 2001 used to gain absolute powers by imprisoning pro-democracy dissidents and closing down the independent press.
With increased repression, Eritrea soon lost support from generous Western donor countries and has become increasingly isolated from the West. According to the Asmara Ministry of Information, however, Eritrea is achieving "progress and development not through assistance, donations and beggary at the doors and clubs of donor organisations, but through depending on self-reliance." At the same time, the government is complaining over "insufficient international attention" on the effects of drought in Eritrea.
The last year has also seen a row between Eritrea and the African Union (AU) and the UN. Eritrea withdrew its ambassador from the AU because the union had failed to condemn Ethiopia, while Asmara accused UN peacekeepers of posing a security threat to the country. Eritrea also was found guilty of grave human rights violations by a landmark ruling of the AU Commission.
Meanwhile, the PFDJ regime is increasing its verbal warfare against Ethiopia, Sudan, the West and other foreign enemies it sees conspiring against Eritrea. President Afewerki only today complained about the "anti-Eritrea agitation campaign" that had been carried out by Ethiopian diplomats "during the past six years."
As the Asmara government rapidly has lost its international credibility, the regular outbursts against conspiring foreign powers are mainly aimed at the domestic public in Eritrea. Here, the state-controlled press carefully reproduces the government's messages of the PFDJ being "Africa's symbol of freedom and dignity," successes in achieving Africa's "greatest rate of economic growth without seeking foreign help" and envious neighbours threatening Eritrea's achievements.
Asmara authorities are not unaware that a growing number of Eritreans are trying to flee the deepening poverty and repression in the country. They meet this challenge by furthering isolation. Border controls are stepped up and information from abroad is filtered even stricter. Internet cafes are now only to be allowed in supervised public places, such as public schools and libraries, the Ministry of Communication today announced.
afrol News - It is called "financial inclusion", and it is a key government policy in Rwanda. The goal is that, by 2020, 90 percent of the population is to have and actively use bank accounts. And in only four years, financial inclusion has doubled in Rwanda.
afrol News - The UN's humanitarian agencies now warn about a devastating famine in Sudan and especially in South Sudan, where the situation is said to be "imploding". Relief officials are appealing to donors to urgently fund life-saving activities in the two countries.
afrol News - Fear is spreading all over West Africa after the health ministry in Guinea confirmed the first Ebola outbreak in this part of Africa. According to official numbers, at least 86 are infected and 59 are dead as a result of this very contagious disease.
afrol News - It is already a crime being homosexual in Ethiopia, but parliament is now making sure the anti-gay laws will be applied in practical life. No pardoning of gays will be allowed in future, but activist fear this only is a signal of further repression being prepared.
afrol News / Africa Renewal - Ethiopia's ambitious plan to build a US$ 4.2 billion dam in the Benishangul-Gumuz region, 40 km from its border with Sudan, is expected to provide 6,000 megawatts of electricity, enough for its population plus some excess it can sell to neighbouring countries.