Africa

Eritrea: Asmara calm after 'information ministry raid'

  • 22 January 2013
  • From the section Africa
Screen grab from Eritrea TV - showing the US TV show The X-Files
Image caption EriTV was broadcasting an episode of the US science fiction show The X-Files on Tuesday

Eritrea's capital is calm a day after mutinous soldiers reportedly stormed the information ministry, sources say, while state TV is back on air.

A European diplomat in Asmara told the AFP news agency that the mutineers had left the ministry building and there was no visible military presence.

Opposition website Awate says the raid was led by an army commander, who has been pushing for political change.

Eritrea has been a one-party state since independence in 1993.

Its government has been criticised by human rights activists, who say it is one of the world's most repressive and closed countries.

State television is back on air after broadcasts were interrupted for several hours on Monday.

The dissident soldiers reportedly had a statement calling for the implementation of the country's 1997 constitution and the release of political prisoners read out on air.

Eritrea expert Leonard Vincent, an author and co-founder of a Paris-based Eritrean radio station, told AP news agency the broadcast of the statement was cut off after only two sentences were read out.

There has been no official statement about Monday's incident.

Yemane Gebremeskel, a director in the president's office, told AFP that all was calm in Asmara, as it had been on Monday.

The Eritrean ambassador to South Africa, Salih Omar, told AP that there had been no sign of a coup "or any other signs of uprising".

Awate reported that the daughter of President Isaias Afewerki was caught up in the trouble at the ministry of information.

Mr Isaias, who has ruled since 1993, has little tolerance for criticism and the country does not allow opposition parties, independent journalism or civil society organisations.

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