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Wikileaks: Eritrean president fears US plans to kill him

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December 19, 2010 (ADDIS ABABA) — Eritrean President Isaias Afewerki suspects the United States has plans to assassinate him by bombing his residence, according to leaked secret American diplomatic cables.

The Cable from the US embassy in Eritrea released on December 15 on WikiLeaks, quoted US ambassador to Eritrea, Ronald McMullen also as saying that Isaias also believed Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi has attempted to have him killed over a decade ago.

The Eritrean president was nearly assassinated while returning to Asmara after a family holiday in Kenya, 14 years ago.

"Isaias thinks the United States will attempt to kill him by missile strike on his residence in the city of Massawa," the cable said, quoting a U.N. official.

"He is paranoid and believes Ethiopian PM Meles tried to kill him and that the United States will attempt to assassinate him," McMullen wrote to his superiors in Washington on November 5, last year.

The cables reveal an incident in 1996 when Ethiopia’s Meles Zenawi offered one of his helicopters to fly President Afeworki to Asmara.

"Isaias and Meles, brothers in arms during the 1980s, are now blood enemies. Why? In 1996, while returning from a vacation in Kenya, Isaias, his family and his inner entourage stopped in Addis, where Meles offered to fly them back to Asmara in one of his aircraft," the cables report.

"Isaias accepted the offer; en route the aircraft caught fire, but managed to turn back and land safely in Addis.

Citing to someone who was on the aircraft, the cable said an infuriated Isaias accused Meles to his face of trying to kill him and his family. Isaias has not trusted Meles since, according to this source.

Following its independence in 1993, Eritrea (a former region in Ethiopia), went in to a bloody border war with Ethiopia between 1998-2000. The war killed over 70,000 people.

Last week, The African Union’s Panel of the Wise, at its 9th assembly in Algiers, Algeria has urged a launch for a new and binding peace process to resolve the long-standing border row between Ethiopia and Eritrea.

(ST)

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