Despite the lifting of UN sanctions in 2018, Eritrea remains diplomatically isolated.
And its rapprochement with Ethiopia has not contributed to the relaxation of the regime that President Issayas Afeworki introduced in 1993.
Still as secret as ever, he is surrounded by the faithful, who have accompanied him since independence.
Here are a few of the key personnel in Team Issayas.
A loyal and discreet political advisor, Yemane Ghebreab is originally from the Agame and is a Member of the Popular Front for Democracy and Justice (FPDJ), Eritrea’s sole and ruling party. He studied in the United States, where he joined the student wing of the Eritrean People’s Liberation Front (EPLF), now rebranded as the FPDJ.
Ghebrehiwot is Head of the Economic Affairs Section of the FPDJ and CEO of Hidri, a consortium founded by Afeworki that brought together the country’s private companies. As the president’s financial manager, he already managed the EPLF’s money, which earned him the nickname “Kisha” (“bag of potatoes”).
As Director of the National Security Agency intelligence services, Kassa is also in charge of the president’s security. Ethiopia accused him of organizing Asmara’s support for the terrorist group Al-Shabaab in Somalia, an allegation he has denied.
Ghebremeskel —nicknamed “Charlie” — manages Afeworki’s communication and has been Minister of Information and Government Spokesman since 2015. He was appointed Chief of Staff in 1993 when Eritrea gained independence. He has a degree in mathematics from Imperial College, London.