Conversation with Eritrea’s 2nd Most Important Man

An insightful conversation between Deutschlandfunk radio reporter Oliver Ramme and Yemane Gebreab, Presidential adviser and head of the People’s Front for Democracy and Justice (PFDJ).

By Oliver Ramme | Deutschlandfunk Radio,

Yemane Gebreab is an important figure in Eritrean politics. He is the personal adviser to President Isaias Afewerki. Some see him as a gray eminence, others consider him as the second most powerful man in the state of Eritrea. Our reporter met him – listen here the entire conversation.

The interview took place in March 2016 in Asmara inside the party building, the single allowed party in the country, the People’s Front for Democracy and Justice – PFDJ. The party ruled since independence in 1993 from Ethiopia.

In the conversation, Gebreab draws a detailed balance sheet of the country after 25 years of independence (the defeat of the Derg regime in 1991 in Ethiopia is considered by many Eritreans as a great step towards independence). It’s about the tense relationship between Ethiopia and Eritrea.

Asmara feels patronized by the big neighbor. Also, there are questions about the controversial “National Service“, where young Eritreans are partly conscripted for years. The advisor defends the National Service against international criticism. The service contributes to social unity and the protection of the border. Eritrea is – according Gebreab – victim of an intrigue and misunderstood.

Eritrea is in the headlines because of the high number of refugees – Gebreab judged that it is about democracy deficits, speech and press freedom.. Even the thorny issue of political prisoners is addressed.

The entire interview can be heard below. (* Google translation from German)