Eritrean Rebellion Ends as Ambassador Dismisses Coup Speculation

A rebellion by dissident Eritrean soldiers was resolved peacefully, Control Risks said, after Eritrea’s ambassador to the United Nations dismissed speculation of an attempted coup as “nonsensical.”

About 100 soldiers stormed the Information Ministry in Asmara yesterday and took control of the building, according to Awate.com, a California-based opposition website. The troops ordered a newsreader to read a statement on state television calling for the release of political prisoners and the implementation of the country’s 1997 constitution, it said.

The rebellion “has been resolved without violence,” Control Risks, the London-based risk-analysis group, said in a statement on its website. “Given that the situation has concluded, we advise that normal travel can resume.”

Eritrea has been ruled by President Isaias Afwerki, a former rebel leader, since it gained independence from Ethiopia in 1993. The country has no privately owned press and the government has arbitrarily detained thousands of people including opposition supporters and journalists over the past decade, according to Amnesty International, the London-based advocacy group.

Political dissent in Eritrea is “rare” because of the controls on the opposition, according to Control Risks.

“There is no reason to believe that this latest incident will trigger a sustained campaign of opposition to Isaias, whether from within the state structure or in the form of popular protests,” it said.

‘Under Control’

Araya Desta, the Eritrean ambassador to the UN, denied there had been any attempt to oust the president.

“Everything is fine and under control,” he said in a phone interview yesterday from New York.

Information Minister Ali Abdu Ahmed may have defected from Eritrea in November and sought political asylum in Canada, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists, a New York- based advocacy group, which cited opposition news website Assenna.com. The government dismissed the report and said Ali was still in Asmara, the committee said. Calls to the ministry today seeking comment didn’t connect.

Nevsun Resources Ltd. (NSU), the operator of a gold mine in Eritrea, gained 1.9 percent at 10:16 a.m. in Toronto after yesterday falling by the most in six months. The company said its Bisha mine in the Horn of Africa nation was operating normally.

Sunridge Gold Ltd. (SGC) said the military activity in the capital had no impact on its continuing engineering studies in the country. The stock climbed 11 percent today, after falling as much as 32 percent yesterday.

To contact the reporter on this story: Bealfan T. Hayle in Khartoum via Nairobi at pmrichardson@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Paul Richardson at pmrichardson@bloomberg.net.

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