Members of the Freedom Friday network (Arbi Harnet) in Asmara report that the situation in Eritrea is deteriorating and people are bracing themselves for every eventuality.
These activists say they are hearing rumours of a growing discontent among cabinet members as well as senior party and army officials.
The Cabinet Meeting that was convened last week, only lasted a few hours. Usually it is held over a couple of days. It is reported that President Issaias Afwerki’s briefings regarding the current national and regional developments were met with ‘tough questions’ from several ministers. This created a tense atmosphere and he is said to have walked out of the meeting. The Arbi Harnet activists have heard that at least three ministers have asked permission to resign from their respective posts.
The three ministers who have requested to be relieved of their ministerial responsibilities are believed to be Mr Arefaine Berhe, minister of agriculture, Mr Semere Russom, Minister of education (who was appointed ambassador to Ethiopia in July) and the Minister of public works, Mr Abraha Asfaha. It should not be forgotten that last month the regime arrested the former minister of finance, following his publication of a two-volume book criticising the regime.
Meanwhile, Eritreans continue to leave the country, taking advantage of the opening of the border with Ethiopia. The health and education sectors are said to be suffering badly, since large numbers of professionals, including young teachers and medical professionals, have left the country in large numbers.
The arrest of ordinary citizens has also continued. As per earlier reports many members of evangelical faith groups who came to Asmara airport to welcome an Ethiopia Televangelist, who took the first flight from Ethiopia, are still in prison.
Similarly, owners of water tankers, who were unable to pay the hefty fines levied during the summer, amounting to millions of Nakfa, remain in jail.