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Isaias Afwerki is the first President of Eritrea, a position he has held since 1993. He led the Eritrean People's Liberation Front to victory in May 1991, thus ending the 30-year-old armed liberation struggle that the Eritrean people refer to as "Gedli". Two years later, he became President following an independence referendum. He is the head of the ruling People's Front for Democracy and Justice. Afwerki was born in Asmara, Eritrea, and attended Haile Selassie University before dropping out join the Eritrean Liberation Front. During this period, he spent time in China studying politics and military training. Afwerki would later part ways with the ELF and co-found the Eritrean People’s Liberation Front, one of three groups that split off to participate in the civil war before the conflict stalled in 1974. Afwerki became the chairman of the EPLF military committee in 1975 and the vice secretary-general in 1977. When another Eritrean civil war began in 1979, Afwerki and the EPLF opposed the ELF alongside the Tigray People's Liberation Front, eventually toppling the Derg regime in 1991 and gaining official Eritrean independence by referendum two years later. (via Freebase)