Following rumours he had been ill and taken to the United Arab Emirates for treatment, Eritrean President Isaias Afeworki showed up at a formal event celebrating the country’s 27th independence anniversary in the capital Asmara.
The rumours of his ill health leading up to his appearance led the country’s Information minister Yemane Ghebremeskel to issue a public rebuttal – dismissing the stories as “another hoax” and “absolutely false”.
President Isaias, a reclusive leader, has ruled Eritrea ever since its independence 27 years ago.
His speech was as defiant as usual – complete with accusations of Western economic and political “conspiracies” against his country.
He also acknowledged “regional tensions”, possibly a nod to new issues between Eritrea and neighbouring Sudan.
Eritrea has also fallen out with two of its other neighbours, having gone to war with Ethiopia 20 years ago, and later with Djibouti.
He was alive
President Isaias’s government is accused of human rights violations but it denies those accusations as “conspiracies”.
In 2012, he was reported to have died before he showed up on national television to prove he was alive.