Information ministry centre of Eritrean ‘coup’

Eritrea’s Information Ministry was yesterday the centre of an attempted coup after two tanks and some 100 soldiers barricaded its headquarters as the state television was taken off air.

Although news was slow to trickle out of the one-party state under President Isaias Afwerki, posts on social media suggested unusual army movements in the country’s capital Asmara.

The soldiers went ahead to read a statement on state television calling for enactment of the 1997 constitution and release of political prisoners, in a broadcast that lasted under a minute before transmission was cut.

Among those who found themselves in the midst of the turmoil included the president’s daughter and the information ministry’s employees who were shut away in a single room, according to reports.

The AFP reported that soldiers loyal to Afworki however seem to have taken control of the situation based on a statement by Martin Plaut, a fellow at the Commonwealth Institute in Asmara.

“It looks like it’s an isolated attempt by some soldiers who are completely frustrated by what is going on. But it wasn’t done in a coordinated manner. They did seize the television station, they did manage to put this broadcast out, but the government is still functioning calmly. There is nothing on the streets,” Plaut said.

Unconfirmed Reports indicate that the coup attempt could have failed.

Ethiopia is normally referred to as the North Korea of Africa due to its media and human rights clampdown.

With the media under tight government control, very little news is coming out of Asmara.

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