Biography of Issaias Afewerki (1946-VVVV)

Eritrean politician born in Asmara in 1946, named President of his country in 1993, after getting this independence from Ethiopia.

In 1966, a year after initiating studies in the College of Adis Abeba, joined at the front of liberation of Eritrea (FFL), guerrillas that fought the Government of H. Selassie for the independence of the territory, annexed and converted four years earlier in province of the Ethiopian empire. After receiving training military in China in 1967, the following year amounted to head of the FLE regional area and in 1970 became commanding a combat unit. In 1977, coinciding with the seizure of power in Adis Abeba by Mengistu Haile Mariam, Afewerki participated in the Foundation of the Popular Front of liberation of Eritrea (FPLE), from a split of the FLE of Marxist tendency (paradoxically the same ideology professed by Mengistu), and was appointed as Deputy Secretary-General. In 1987 it became Supreme Leader of the front, which, together with other guerrillas, continued a fight that neither side could tilt in their favor.

International circumstances would play however for the FPLE and in February 1991 the front launched its final onslaught. In late may he/she freed the Eritrean towns of Asab and Asmara, the capital, which put the province under its control. With the collapse of the regime of Mengistu and the entry in Adis Abeba (28 May) of the EPRDF, main force guerrilla which the FPLE had worked effectively. May 29 Afewerki constituted a provisional Government in Eritrea and proceeded to an administrative reorganization, with a view to rapid independence, the culmination of a struggle for national liberation that had lasted three decades. The Government of Adis Abeba chaired by M. Zenawi, guerrilla leader of Tiger, not secessionist but sympathetic with the Eritrean aspirations, provided a separation without increasing tensions. Approved in referendum independence in the 23rd-25 April 1993 (with 95% of the vote), this was proclaimed the following may 24 and Afewerki elected President by the National Assembly (formed in February 1992) in next June. Despite promises of establishing a multiparty system, the FPLE delayed any commitment on the issue, and in February 1994 was transformed into a Popular Front for Justice and democracy (FPJD), already detached from Communist ideology and virtually become the only legal party. In the economic field has had to deal with the serious problems arising from an economy based on subsistence, very dependent on external assistance.

Afewerki Government maintained until 1997 excellent relations with Ethiopia, but mutual accusations of support to the respective internal subversion, disagreements on trade and, above all, never resolved territorial disputes, ended up driving to the full-scale war between both countries in June 1998, an enormously expensive conflict in lives and resources that was extended in 1999 with various phases of intensity and that was considered absurd by the international community by starring in what two Nations more poor of the planet which, at the time, were friends until the day before. With Sudan, ancient protective in combating guerrilla, the Government of Afewerki, after some border skirmishes, broke relations in December 1994 and later went on to actively support the guerrillas fighting the islamico-militar regime in Khartoum. However, on May 2, 1999 Afeworki and his Sudanese counterpart Omar Hassan al - Bashir signed in the capital of Qatar an agreement of reconciliation on which weighed common hostility with Ethiopia. With Yemen a military conflict took place in December 1995 by the ownership of Greater Hanish, strategic Islet in the Strait of Bab to the Mandab, at the entrance to the Black Sea.

R. Ortiz de Zárate