Can Eritrea’s Afwerki hold on to power after the Tigray war?

The Eritrean president finds himself in an increasingly difficult situation.

Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed travelled to Asmara to meet Eritrea’s President Isaias Afwerki on March 25, 2021 [Aron Simeneh/Office of the Prime Minister of Ethiopia via AFP]

On March 22, 2021, the European Union sanctioned Eritrea’s National Security Agency with an asset freeze and travel ban, alleging that the agency was “responsible for serious human rights violations in Eritrea, in particular arbitrary arrests, extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances of persons and torture committed by its agents.”

In response, the Eritrean Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued a statement dismissing the sanctions as “baseless and offensive”. In the statement, the ministry did not address any of the allegations relating to the agency’s actions within Eritrea but instead focused on what it perceives as the EU’s support for the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) – the governing party of Ethiopia’s Tigray region which is currently engaged in a bloody conflict with the Ethiopian government.


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