Eritrean TV shows president after health rumours

Sun Apr 29, 2012 2:34pm GMT

* Rumours began after days of absence

* Opposition said Isaias had serious illness

By Aaron Maasho

ADDIS ABABA, April 29 (Reuters) - Eritrean state television has broadcast an interview with President Isaias Afewerki to quash speculation about his health after days of absence from public view.

Rumours about the fate of the president, in power since 1993 after leading his country to independence from Ethiopia, made the rounds earlier this week after Isaias failed to make his normally regular appearances on television for several days.

"I am lucky, I enjoy robust health," Isaias, 66, told state-run EriTV in what the station said was a live interview conducted late on Saturday. He looked relaxed and was wearing a loose white shirt.

"The speculated ill-health is only in the minds of the authors of such a baseless rumor," the president added in the interview, extracts of which were translated by the information ministry.

Eritrea's exiled opposition has said repeatedly that the president is suffering from a serious liver ailment and has been receiving medical attention in Qatar, with which his nation has close ties.

Speculation about his health has stirred debate over who might eventually replace him. Isaias has no obvious successor but the opposition says he might be grooming his son, Abraham, for the top job.   Continued...

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