Eritrea’s Former Defense Minister Mesfin Hagos Wants His Government Overthrown

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A veteran of the liberation war and former defence minister, Mesfin Hagos, has said he favors using violence to overthrow the regime of Eritrean president Issayas Afeworki. He was speaking in a recent interview on TV Sened, a station representing the Eritrean opposition and appearing on YouTube. Hagos, one of the leaders of an opposition Eritrean movement living in exile, the Eritrean Peoples’ Democratic Movement (EPDM) had opposed violence as a solution, like most opponents of the ruling Peoples Front for Democracy and Justice in Asmara. But Hagos said he had changed his mind because any losses resulting from a war against the current regime would be fewer in number because, unlike the case in the past, the Eritrean Army’s morale is low and it wouldn’t put up a strong fight ; elsewhere, the Eritrean people are increasingly put off by the regime. The interview came as Ethiopian prime minister Hallemariam Desalegn told Parliament in mid-March that his government was implementing a new strategy to put paid to Eritrean efforts to destabilize Ethiopia (ION 1447). In addition, Ethiopia appears to have gone beyond merely issuing threats. According to our sources, discreet preparations and military movements have been observed on the Ethiopian side of the border on the central and northern parts. These involve not only Ethiopian forces but movements by the armed Eritrean opposition, including forces from the Red Sea Afar Democratic Organization (RSADO). Since September, 2014, that organization has forged tighter ties with the Ethiopian army and its chief of staff, Mohamed-Nur Yunus, a k a Samora(ION nº1386)