On February 23rd, a preparatory committee composed of representatives of the Eritrean Democratic Alliance (EDA) and representatives of Eritrean civil society groups concluded a week long session in Addis Abeba, Ethiopia, and set July 30, 2010 as the National Conference date.
EDA is an umbrella group of 13 Eritrean opposition groups, and the preparatory committee included representatives from all member organization. The theme selected for the scheduled conference is “National Conference for Democratic Change” and is expected to include representatives from all opposition forces, the civil society, religious leaders and scholars.
At the National Conference, attendees plan to agree on the mechanism to remove the Eritrean ruling party, PFDJ, from power, to set up a system to resolve intra and inter-opposition group conflicts and to draft a Transitional Charter that will lay the groundwork for a post-PFDJ Eritrea.
The membership of the preparatory committee is as follows: Mr. Bashir Ishaq, chairman; Mr. Amha Domenico, vice chairman; Mr. Ahmed Safer, Secretary; Mr. Abdurazek Karar, Research and Documentation; Mr. Mohammed Maar, Organization and Services; Mr. Kernelios Osman, News and Information; Mr. Mekonen Haile, Finance and Mr. Mehari Weldegiorgis, auditor general.
The idea of a “National Conference” has been discussed by Eritrean opposition groups since at least 2002, when the legislative arm of the EDA mandated its executive office to facilitate it. Lack of harmony, funds, and differences in vision bottlenecked the process and the idea was idle for the next six years. In May 2008, the EDA Congress revitalized the issue and elected a seven-member preparatory committee to proceed with setting up the Conference.