Prof. Kjetil Tronvoll


President Isaias Afwerki of Eritrea is known to talk gibberish in his speeches. His scholarly intellectual capacities were early proved to be limited (he failed the freshman exams at university in Addis Ababa), and regrettably for him he does not have competent speech writers and his political advisors are either inefficacious or too scared to tell him he is talking nonsense.

In the celebration of 30 years of sovereignty for Eritrea on May 24 (or 32 years of independence as it is called), Isaias Afwerki does not talk about Eritrean developments, but focuses on perceived US machinations against Eritrea (he names US/Washington seven times in the speech, and Ethiopia only once!). In one of the sections, he manages to utter the following

“the ploy that the forces of global domination – principally the Washington clique and its allies – have employed against our liberation and independence for the past eighty years that entangled three generations of our people, is to drive a wedge between Ethiopia and Eritrea and to instigate war incessantly.”

In the same sentence Isaias Afwerki is thus claiming that Washington plotted to prevent Eritrean independence (i.e. to protect Ethiopian territorial integrity), whilst at the same timeas US are “driving a wedge” between Ethiopia and Eritrea by incessantly instigating war! 

If we accept that Isaias Afwerki was not mentally incapacitated or intoxicated at Independence Day, how can this sentence be interpreted? The two obvious interpretations may be:

1) Is Isaias Afwerki here negating the 30-years of liberation war from Ethiopia – calling it a ploy instigated by USA? If so, what an insult to the horrendous sufferings of the Eritrean population and the tens of thousands of EPLF fighters who sacrificed their lives to obtain independence from Ethiopia.  


2) Is Isaias Afwerki declaring that the two major wars on the African continent the last decades – the Eritrea-Ethiopia war of 1998-2000, and the war on Tigray by Ethiopia/Eritrea 2020-2022 – are plotted and instigated by US? If so, Isaias Afwerki is admitting that he, the omnipresent dictator of Eritrea, does not have political agency to shape bilateral relations to his neighboring countries, nor authority to control and command his own army. 

I am not sure which of the interpretations are best, or rather worst, for the daily life of the subjugated Eritrean people. But one thing is sure, their unhinged President needs help – either from the Gods or psychiatrists.