Home | News    Thursday 21 April 2005

Eritrean president says "war is imminent"

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ASMARA, Apr 21, 2005 (Sudan Tribune) — In the opening session of the ruling People’s Front for Democracy and Justice (PFDJ) Central Office meeting of 12-13 April, President Isayas Afewerki informed the senior officials of the party that the inevitability of war with Ethiopia is "a firm conclusion that we have reached."

Eritrean troops march during their celebrations to mark 11 years of independence. (Reuters).

This conclusion, he explained, is based on "our assessment that Ethiopia harbours expansionist ambitions and will act on them.", the Eritrean radio reported yesterday night.

He then asked the assembled senior officials "should we, knowing this, give them the opportunity to strike first?" Even if one does not believe war is imminent, continued the president, "hijji win aydeqesnan" ("we are not content") with the no-war no-peace situation."

The assembled officials should know, he explained, that the 2005-2006 national budget and programmes are going to be designed with the assumption that there will be war. An informed source tells Gedab News that the president "only fell short of declaring a war."

This opening statement was then followed by the establishment of discussion groups headed by ministers and generals, but the tone had already been set by the president. In these meetings, there was an "air of dread and apprehensiveness" with "everyone meekly echoing the president’s assessment."

According to our sources, the level of discourse was so muted that the closest the participants even came to challenging the president’s assessment was when the group chaired by Brig-Gen Tekle Manjus questioned the war-preparedness of Eritrea’s defence forces.

All able-bodied residents of Senafe southern Eritrea have been instructed to dig trenches and, according to our source, with the message of "war is inevitable" being carried at the regional levels throughout the nation, a sense of foreboding has engulfed Eritrea.

Material provided by the BBC Monitoring Service

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