Eritrea mutiny over Asmara reported calm

January 23, 2013 - 7:00:26 am

NAIROBI: Armed Eritrean mutineers have left the information ministry that they seized on Monday, with the capital Asmara reported to be calm, diplomats and opposition members yesterday.

“The situation today is very, very quiet. There is no visible military presence in the city, the tanks have gone,” a European diplomat in the city said. “The information ministry is back to business as usual,” the diplomat added, noting that Asmara was back “to normal”, with banks and public buildings open.

Opposition website, based in the United States but with close connections inside Eritrea, said that the commander of around 100 rebel soldiers had agreed to leave the ministry, something believed to have happened late on Monday.

“The face-off was ‘solved’ when the government ‘accepted his terms’” Awate said, although there were no further details as to what will happen next.

“All is calm today, as it was indeed yesterday,” read a message from Yemane Gebremeskel, the director of Eritrean President Issaias Afeworki’s office, although officials have otherwise remained tightlipped over the events.

It was not possible to confirm the reports independently.

Amanuel Ghirmai, an Eritrean journalist in Paris for independent Radio Erena, said the army mutineers stormed the hill-top ministry — which towers over the capital of the Red Sea state — early on Monday morning.

They reportedly ordered news readers at the government-run television and radio station—the only source of media for the authoritarian state — to read a statement that they would implement the country’s constitution enacting democratic principles and stopping arbitrary arrests.