On Monday, 100 mutinous soldiers seized Eritrea’s Ministry of Information and forced state television to broadcast their list of demands. Loyal government troops quickly put an end to what some are calling a failed coup attempt, but two Eritrea experts who spoke with Trend Lines said the challenge to Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki, who has made the country one of the most isolated and oppressive in the world, is far from over.
“This is a reflection of the depth and breadth of dissatisfaction in the society over the continuing failure to take the country beyond the war footing it went into in 1998 over border disputes with Ethiopia, as well as the chronic economic crisis, the international isolation and the crushing political repression the unelected president has brought on and nurtured for more than a decade,” said Dan Connell, an Eritrea expert who teaches journalism and African politics at Simmons College. “And I do not believe it is anywhere near over.”
Martin Plaut, a senior research fellow at the Institute of Commonwealth Studies and former Africa editor of BBC News, said the events “tore away the mantle of a ‘contented nation, going about its business, free from foreign interference,’ which is how the president and his close associates like to portray it,” Plaut explained.