By Tesfa-Alem Tekle
April 28, 2012 (ADDIS ABABA) – The president of Eritrea, Isaias Aferwerki, appeared on state television on Saturday, ending speculation that he had died.
The Eritrean government earlier this week accused the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) of being the “rumour monger” behind the claims.
- Eritrean president, Isaias Afewerk (AFP / Reuters)
The opposition movement, the Red Sea Afar Democratic Organization (RSADO) said on Saturday, before his appearance on television, that contrary to speculation Aferwerki is alive.
Recently Eritrean opposition websites and social media outlets have been reporting that the former rebel leader is either dead or seriously sick due to his month-long absence from state television.
RSADO told Sudan Tribune that the Eritrean leader is alive and carrying out his duties on daily basis but still claims that his health is deteriorating rapidly due to a liver infection.
Information minister Ali Abdu told the BBC on Friday that the claims about Afwerki were “nonsense” and that the President would not “respond this cheap propaganda” by appearing on television.
Afewerki told state media on Saturday that his absence had been due to a working visit abroad and that “I am lucky; I enjoy robust health. The speculated ill-health is only in the minds of the authors of such a baseless rumor.”
He has been leading the country as its dictatorial president since it gained independence from Ethiopia in 1993, despite criticisms of failing to bring democratic reforms.