Eritrean President – 2024 Independence Day Speech
By Habte Hagos

On 24th May 2024, President Isaias Afeworki gave an Independence Day speech in Asmara, the capital city of Eritrea. Unlike most of his speeches in the last 33 years, this speech was scripted and there was less waffleover the thirteen-minute. Of course, the President could not resist the temptation to put himself at par with the Russian President, Vladimir Putin or the Chinese President, Xi Jinping to lead “a new world order”. Thus, making himself the fourth leader of a “superpower country” along with President Joe Biden of the US.

Isaias has no shame, no sense of proportionality nor any understanding of the reality on the ground. Instead, he blares out whatever comes to his thuggish, uneducated, and undiplomatic mind, knowing full well no Eritrean will dare to question him. Those bold enough to utter a word against the dictator end up in multiple gulags and shipping containers scattered across the country. It is estimated that Eritrea has one of the highest number of prisons per capita in the world. In 2013, Amnesty International1 identified 34 known prisons across the country “where thousands of prisoners of conscience and political prisoners are languishing for expressing opinions, dissent, or opposition, practicing religion, or attempting to flee repression. Many prisoners are never heard from again after being taken into custody”. Things have exponentially worsened since 2013 under this mindless and abhorrently cruel leadership, forcing hundreds of thousands of people to flee their homeland. It is no wonder Eritrea is the fastest emptying nation on earth.

This is Eritrea today that this delusional despotic President has created and rules as his fiefdom. The world rightly sees Isaias as unhinged and mentally deranged, who speaks and acts as an eight-year-old bully. His speech on Independence Day was no different.

The main takeaways from the President’s speech2 are (for translation caveat see footnote):

  • Our Independence Day is the day when we look at our achievements over the preceding year and reflect what is going on in our region and the world at large.
  • Over the last 33 years, there has been a new world order with new ideology and initiatives dominated by some actors [the west] that we need to understand. In the last few years, those who want to dominate the world have been challenged and are being defeated by the free world. There is now a push for a new world order that represents world masses, which has been our long-held desire.
  • To understand the forthcoming new world order, we need to look what took place in 2021, 2022 and 2023 which was aimed at strengthening the discredited world order. Now in 2024, we ask what is happening? Thirty years ago, the cold war created Russia and they [west] used propaganda to create the current climate [war in Ukraine].
  • The discredited NATO and the EU are being expanded and strengthened to camouflage their weaknesses and to mask the problems they face.
  • In the useless war [Ukraine], they are burning billions of dollars every day and it is obvious that the spend is increasing to trillions of dollars every day.
  • As the war goes on the loss and destruction will increase making it difficult to justify to the world. This failed ideology will leave them [anti-Russian countries] with no option.
  • What worries them [west] more than Russia is China. The plan to solve the war [Ukraine] with good words and diplomacy is inconsistent with what is happening on the warfront. These domineering forces are also worried about China’s advancing economy, technology, and military as well as its expanding world influence. Because they [west] do not want to lose their influence and dominance, they are using excuses of Taiwan and Hong Kong in South China and Asia at large to create obstacles for China’s advances.
  • Their [west’s] biggest problem is China’s advancing economy and technology for which they are trying to create barriers as high as the tip of an iceberg. This is dangerous for world peace and should not be underestimated.
  • America has over $30 trillion debt of which approximately a quarter is owed to China [this is a little rich coming from a President who does not know his own country’s GDP, budget, or its population].
  • China has 60% of the world wealth which is fast growing with a population of about 1.2 billion and it is trying to help people across the world who have been enslaved and poor.
  • In the last 7 months in the Middle East, the Palestinian people’s struggle for freedom has taken a centre stage. Since the second world war and certainly since Oslo 1993 to 1995 [accord], the west has delayed implementing the two-state solution by exploiting weak leadership and division amongst the Palestinians. Despite this the Palestinian struggle has advanced to world’s surprise and taken a centre stage with a wide network. In doing so, the Palestinians have exposed those who try to exploit them [west].
  • The conflict in the Middle East has impacted on the Red Sea and our region at large. What is happening in our region and across the Red Sea is not legal and could bring danger to the region.
  • Coming to our region, they have created wars and conflicts over the last 30 years, and they are now trying to create new wars. As shown since our independence, the Eritrean people have defended their country and are capable to continue doing so. Be assured by this, be assured!
  • For those in diaspora and in these testing times, you have shown heroism especially in the past year. I say well done and carry on. [This is a clear manifestation, if one is needed, that the festivals and the associated violence in cities and towns in the west from Israel to Europe and to North America are orchestrated by the regime in Asmara. Despite their love affairs with Russia and China, not a single PFDJ want to go and live there, let alone have a party].
  • We will work in harmony with our neighbours and the world at large.

Isaias’ speech is not new although the audience this time have nothing to do with Russia or China but Eritreans’ who came to celebrate the liberation of their country from Ethiopia’s 30-year dominance and oppression.

In his visit to Moscow in August 2023, Isaias met President Putin and his officials3. Isaias (an expert on everything but a master of none) lectured them for most of the 18 minutes session, so much so that some of the Russian officials had to visibly contain themselves from laughter. He even told the Russian delegates to their face “they had not prepared for the Ukraine war” [if they were Eritreans, he would have locked them up]. He went on to say, “this is not a war between Russia and Ukraine but a war between Russia and the west/NATO”. Ironically, he adds “NATO is defunct and does not exist, EU is defunct and does not exist. They are both in intensive care unit and the world will need to stand with Russia to create a new world order” and pleads Putin “to lead a strategy against the west”. Finally, he goes on to say, “Eritrea has limited resources, but it will endeavour to help Russia with the new strategy”.

The irony is Eritrea is one of the poorest countries on earth with a GDP (IMF 2020) of $2.1 billion4 (a GDP smaller than my local district in London), a population of about 3.6 million (nobody knows the exact number, including the President himself) and one of the smallest countries in Africa. But for a President who has no concept of proportionality, he can talk with no self-respect in much the same way other dictators such Idi Amin of Uganda did in the past.

Of course, Independence Day is a day a leader with a sense of responsibility and self-respect takes the opportunity to enlighten his people of the country’s achievements in the preceding year and what the future holds for them. Clearly, President Isaias has no achievement to speak about and the future for the country under his leadership is as bleak as in the past, hence why he made no mention in his speech. If the President has any sense of decency he would speak about his own country and its people rather than talk about countries that eye our homeland for its strategic location and exploit our natural resources, namely Russia and China respectively.

What the Eritrean people want, and need is food and peace, which this unelected President has failed to deliver year-on-year for 33 years. When will this nightmare end?

Cry my beloved country, cry.


Footnote about the author.

I am British-Eritrean. I have lived in the United Kingdom for many years but always kept abreast of developments in my country of birth.

The President spoke in Tigrinya, which is my mother tongue. Although a member of the Eritrean opposition, I have endeavoured to translate the President’s speech accurately and to the best of my ability, which is not easy given his speeches are convoluted. However, and despite this, any omission, error, or misrepresentation is entirely mine. I stand ready to be corrected.

HH 27.05.2024



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