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Eritrean Opposition Movement: The Political Imperative of Self-Renewal

Recent political developments in Ethiopia seem to have generated internal dynamics that promise to fundamentally alter the political landscape in the country and perhaps even in the region. The emergence in April of Ethiopia’s newly elected prime minister, Dr. Abiy Ahmed has potentially opened the way for unprecedented social and political change and appears to have already set the country’s progress on a new trajectory. In assuming state responsibilities and addressing national issues, the new leader hit the ground running and pushed his fledgling administration to introduce hitherto unimagined political and economic reforms at a speed that Ethiopians and outsiders alike find breathtaking. The consistent message of respect, tolerance, reconciliation, love, and peace he articulates is palpably altering the mood of his nation although it remains to be seen if his future policies and decisions will be strictly guided by those ideals.

The boldness of his domestic initiatives has been mirrored in his handling of the country’s foreign affairs. In quick succession, the prime minister paid state visits to each of the IGAD countries (except Eritrea), Egypt and the Middle Eastern powers of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. The visits were reportedly aimed at expressing Ethiopia’s interest in closer bilateral relations so essential for fostering development cooperation and economic integration among countries in the region. Ethiopia’s new strategy towards Eritrea, with whom it was in a state of war for two decades, was a peace offer entailing unconditional acceptance of the terms of the Algiers Agreement and the UN Boundary Commission ruling along with a commitment to full implementation of the latter.

The process of rapprochement set in motion by that initiative has since been reinforced by a series of diplomatic moves: Eritrea dispatched a delegation to Addis Ababa, the Ethiopian leader visited Asmara and his Eritrean counterpart reciprocated the action – all in the short span of barely a month. It has now begun yielding concrete results as heralded by the 5-point Declaration of Peace and Friendship the two leaders signed in Asmara.

The fast pace at which events continue to unfold has sent at least the urban populations and the mass media in both countries into an unprecedented frenzy. Hence, until the dust settles and public mood sobers up, it would not be easy to guess how things may evolve in the near-term much less to predict what may transpire in the middle- and long-term. Consequently, this article presents just general observations regarding (i) public reaction to the reconciliation between the two countries and (ii) what this turn of events means to Eritrea’s democracy movement.

Public Reaction to Ethiopia-Eritrea Rapprochement

Mass-media accounts of the peace initiative indicate that public reaction in Ethiopia has been somewhat mixed. Some who never accepted Eritrean independence have enthusiastically supported the peace deal because they see it as providing a chance for eventually incorporating the port of Assab, if not Eritrea itself, into Ethiopian territory. Another section of the population – mostly Tigrayans – are opposed to the deal because they fiercely reject the possibility of ceding territories even those that the EEBC identified as Eritrean. The majority, however, are known to support the initiative because of its potential to bring the socio-economic dividends of peace that they yearn for.

Similarly, Eritrea’s diaspora population have been polarized in their reaction. Supporters were as uncritical of the regime’s delay in responding to the peace offer as they were supportive of its eventual decision to go overboard in its conciliation with Ethiopia. In contrast, the opposition was quick to show enthusiasm for Ethiopia’s declaration and to lavish praise on its prime minister while viciously attacking Eritrea’s leader. Citing his arrogance, authoritarian tendencies, and confrontational approach, many prematurely asserted that the leader will do everything possible to scuttle prospects for reconciliation and derail the initiative.

But when the strongman finally acted, his response caught everyone by surprise and threatened to turn the political tables. His sudden, all-out move for conciliation – symbolized by sending a delegation to Addis Ababa – and his emissaries’ cozying up and capitulation to an erstwhile foe may well prove to be a turning point in Eritrea’s politics of despotism. Some opposition elements are reported to have since softened their stance under the fake rationale that the regime has now begun addressing issues. On the other hand, the regime’s newfound priority of ensuring a “stable Ethiopia” over demarcating the border has infuriated some of its traditional supporters.

The complexities and requirements of border demarcation also were the subject of intense public discussion. Opposition media outlets disseminated information in the form of articles, comments, interviews, panel discussions, etc. that dealt with these issues and which drew from party representatives, activists, analysts and ordinary individuals. Many contributors offered well-informed and considered opinions that impart knowledge, provide insight into past and present realities and hint at prospects. The inputs of some others relied on wild guesses, exaggerations, and biases to push outrageous claims and outlandish predictions all laced with hatred for Isaias. Still, a few others advanced opinions that were remarkable for their haste and callousness and notable for the intellectual impairment they displayed.

The State of  Eritrean Opposition: A Movement at a Crossroads

The rapid end to the long-standing Ethio-Eritrea hostility has not only exposed the sorry state of the Eritrean opposition but has presented its constituent groups both an opportunity for an honest self-assessment and a challenge to justify their existence.

i. In Search of Consensus: Opposition views on the peace initiative are generally random in nature and bear little or no commonality in underlying political principles. One is thus unable to discern any common thread(s) or coalescence of views that can be identified as consensus or majority opinion of one or more political groups. Even statements that leaders of political groups issued on the subject are, in tone and substance, neither authoritative nor representative. They simply reflect the views of the leaders themselves and perhaps a handful of colleagues that make up the group – not those of a mass following which they, of course, never had!

If the movement is to gain momentum, its constituent groups must articulate their vision for the country, expound their strategies and programs for realizing it and mobilize Eritreans in the diaspora and, to the extent possible, inside the country. The aim should be to build a broad-based popular support evidenced by a registered membership large enough to win recognition and assistance from external political forces.

ii. Ending Intolerance and Division: The movement for democratic change has been a victim of the political climate of division, intolerance, and hostility that the PFDJ promoted. But, it has also done its share of exacerbating the resulting chaos by engaging in internecine fighting internally and with adversaries. In the process, it developed into an inward-looking, closed political camp that has continued to drift into isolation, stagnation, and fragmentation.

It is high time that opposition groups came out of their present seclusion by tearing down barriers of suspicion and animus that the despotic regime has erected among the population in order to weaken the opposition. Pro-change groups must believe in the power of ideas and challenge each other intellectually. Their members should shun politics of hatred, engage regime supporters in discussions/debates and attend their social and political events. They should employ the art of negotiation and give-and-take to narrow differences with allies and adversaries and perhaps even to win some of the latter over to the movement. To do these, however, groups and their membership must first break out of the mold and cultivate civility and a more embracing attitude.

iii: Resetting Strategies: Public political discourse reveals that many in the opposition blame the country’s woes on Isaias Afewerki, not on the political system he presides over. They express indignation at his cruel, repugnant decisions and actions of the past, not the ideology, policy and strategy that made them possible. In short, many seem to labor endlessly to demonize the dictator. But they must understand the futility of trying to demonize a demon! Isaias Afewerki has long come to symbolize cruelty, despotism, belligerence and deception in the eyes of his own people, the region and the international community that has been relentless in its efforts to contain and isolate him.

Opposition forces should instead focus their efforts on gaining insight into the dictator’s political thinking, his strategizing and political planning by co-opting insiders in his regime, luring PFDJ’s agents and activists abroad, networking with the diplomatic community in host countries and other creative ways. Placing themselves ahead of the political game in this way would enable the opposition to counter/challenge/circumvent the regime’s moves and actions more effectively.

The outlook for the Future

Ethiopia’s new prime minister has been doing great things for his country showcased by the impressive political and economic reforms that he introduced early in his tenure. Indeed, he must be applauded for what he has been able to achieve thus far and for his efforts to bring peace to the region. Despite these positive impressions, however, it is difficult to guess what Dr. Abiy’s ultimate goal really is, what kind of a leader he will eventually evolve into and how his country will fare in the months and years ahead.

The peoples of Eritrea and Ethiopia and, indeed, of the wider region have long yearned for peace. A bilateral or multilateral “peace project” that is fair, just and equitable in its formulation and implementation – hence, is capable of bringing to the regional stability and prosperity – would be embraced by all. It is inescapably obvious, however, that there exist forces poised to exploit this rare opportunity for genuine peace to achieve their abominable goals.

In this regard, it is imperative that our overexcited Ethiopian friends understand that the road to Eritrea’s future does not pass through Addis Ababa. That road is destined to be laid, as it had in the past, only by the Eritrean people through blood, sweat, and tears!  Likewise, those “Eritreans” who hallucinate about bringing back to life a “cadaver of a notion” about Eritrea’s future, must be helped to see reality: their cheerleading for “Abiy” in the hope of having their dream realized is as delusional as was the now-expired wish of bringing change to Eritrea by “riding Weyane tanks to Asmara”!

Denial of democracy in Eritrea is a problem that has hampered national progress, but recent political developments in the region have lately elevated it to the level of existential threat. The dawn of peace in Ethio-Eritrea relations is, in and of itself, capable neither of removing the threat nor of instituting democracy in the country. Such outcomes will be achieved only through a popular political struggle waged by Eritreans themselves. To do so, elements of the movement for change must undertake a critical appraisal of their organization, strategy, and performance as a basis for self-renewal and transformation into a more effective movement. They should then carry the struggle forward unphased by the turbulent forces at play in the Horn and cutting through the political cross-currents that muddy the region’s waters. The forces of change should stay on course guided by the beacon of hope that the vision of justice and democracy sustains.

About Yohannes Zerai

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  • Teodros Alem

    Selam girmay
    It is intent. It is hard to identify who is who just because they say so.
    If u not ethiopian(i don’t think so) , just it is rude to talk about someone’s country poltical affair to this level. In short none of ur bissness.

  • Teodros Alem

    Selam girmay
    attacking tplf is not attacking tigrai but if u guys(people with ur kind of argument) think that way and if u think the people of tigrai feel the same thing, instead of nonsense argument, how about tplf own artical 39 in the constitution? U see how the constitution is progressive.

  • abdulworld

    Hello Girmay,
    I don’t think it is much of renaissance. Give me an example of this cultural renaissance you are talking about? What great Eritrean intellectual are you talking about?
    As an Eritrean, I see more of cultural regression than renaissance.

  • Berhe Y

    Dear Girmay,

    Thank you for the nice words. I wrote a long reply but my battery died and lost everything. You are absolutely right, awate.com gets the best out of everyone. Saay specially I don’t know how he does it, but he is always cool as cucumber. I am sure he influence a lot of people and he is a moral compass for many (certainly for me) and they have build amazing platform.

    PMMZ said he visits aware.com when SGJ interviewed him. May be I will write more another day. Welcome and enjoy your stay.

    Berhe

    • Girmay

      Hi Berhe, thanks for the response. I enjoy your contribution to awate.com university. Awate.com has many readers that dont contribute to the discussion. I was one of them until recently, you could read the reasons that made me join the discussion . My favorite aspect of Awate. University is the honest and genuine discussions.

  • Wedi Erey2

    Selamat,

    Is there a lesson to be learned from the fact that the “opposition” has yet to gain any real traction? There are simply too many “talkers” (and writers) and they exist not to organize or propose realistic and concrete measures and solutions but rather score points against their favorite bogey man PIA while ignoring reality.

    The events of the past few weeks are a good illustration. There was intense criticism of PIA when Abiy made his peace offering and the Eritrean government was silent(presumably as it evaluated the situation seriously before responding)? Now we have Awate arguing that Meles’ “in principle” acceptance of the Algiers Agreement in 2004 (after declaring it “illegal and unjust” and trying to isolate the Eritrean government through the Sanaa Forum–BTW if keeping score–dead, dead, wanted international criminal) is the same as Abiy’s unconditional acceptance of the Algiers treaty. It seems everyone (in the media, Eritreans, Ethiopians, etc..) were wrong when they didn’t shrug their shoulders after Abiy’s statement. Saay7 insists this is the same deal. This is not the way to be taken seriously.

    If you want to be taken seriously, how about proposing a way to make to make a democracy function in a small, economically underdeveloped, and diverse society? Better yet, point out some examples and draw some concrete conclusions/proposals. Many believe, that in the context of the region and society? How about working within the current reality that Eritrean government is well entrenched, has a strong base of support and does quite a lot of things pretty well as anyone who spends a reasonable amount of time in the country (foreign ambassadors, the UNDP, foreign investors, doctors, etc) quickly notices. Step 1 to being real opposition is to actually take a good (and objective) measure of your opponent isn’t it?

    The “opposition’s” standard argument is “let’s assume we have all the pre-requisites of a strong democratic society and advanced economy” then we would have an election and it all would work just as it does it does Sweden or Switzerland and we’d live happily ever after if only HE would go away and let us have an election…now let’s write some flowery things to show how well read we are and how evil HE is. No wonder you don’t get a lot of takers.

  • Mitiku Melesse

    Hei, Girmmay.
    It is not a lecture from the rest of Ethiopian points of view.
    When more than hundred thousands prisoners left tplf prisons,
    When our 2oo thousands slodier confronting Eritreas 200 soldiers wont the risk of dying when the peace is dealt
    When oppositions allowed to come in home
    When a tplf government loot and beg money only for tigray while the new rulers beg Ethiopians abroad and inside for Ethiopia
    When a pm respect and preach love from tplf disrespect and insult Ethiopians with all opportunity be it addressing party members or the nation

    All the Lema team is doing the exact opposite of tplf and you know what it means. There is no more corruption in any forms just for the sake of the great Tigrian republic. To your surprise we are not even against it. But we dont want to contribute for solo Tigray development let alone making the rich Tigray republic and rich tigrians on the ash of Ethiopia. We may sound cruel to you. But from our point view what tplf is doing has been doing against Ethiopia is beyond or scope to grasp. We need time to assess the 27 years of tplf madness. What happened to them? Where did all this crulity come from? One could say ok their so cruel to Ahamars by the propaganda when their were young, but where come that hatred against Oromo, Gambelas, Afar, Somalis etc. But now we are enjoying the miracle raining on us.

    If you worry only how the tigray economy keeps on the double digits marathon when the tplf looting stops, i understand your luck of empathy towards Ethiopians and their joy. Anyone who has not share the suffering of Ethiopians by tplf couldnt be expected to share the joy of Ethiopians.

  • Teodros Alem

    Selam girmay
    Just don’t read what is not written and make sense, ur name is girmay and that is mostly tigrai name,

  • Peace!

    Hi Alex,

    BINGO “the old grudge” that’s painful truth, and sadly the innocent kids expected to deliver the revenge. Well, I don’t see that happening, at least not my brothers, relatives, neighbors, friends.

    Peace!

  • saay7

    Selamat Yohannes:

    1. Thanks for taking the time to summarize your perception of the events that unfolded following Ethiopia’s decision to indicate its acceptance of the Algiers Agreement without qualifiers. Since your report is based on published and public events I think you would agree with me that we will learn in a future date of the events that occurred prior to (weeks, perhaps months, and in the case of Martin Plaut’s report, a year) Abiy’s acceptance.

    2. It would have enriched your article greatly if you had told us who and which opposition organizations reacted in the manner you described. As written, it is difficult for the reader to fact-check your writing: whether it is your perception or what was actually said.

    3. “The opposition” encompasses anyone and anything that has expressed its disapproval of, and vote of lack of confidence in, the manner that Eritrea is governed. As such, the opposition is a “pressure group” which includes organized entities with party platforms and programs (armed and unarmed), civil society with missions including single-issue (women’s empowerment, Free Aster, Free Aster) civil society, media outlets (short wave radio, internet radio), talk show programs (Paltalk), websites (published in English, Arabic, Tigrinya), and individuals who are considered, in today’s parlance, “influencers” with large following (Facebook Live, Youtube videos, Paltalk.)

    4. Based on the resources and energy the Isaias government spends from its meager resources to counter and neutralize them, it considers them a threat. But maintenance of its image as the sole opinion-shaper of Eritrea requires it to hold all the following views simultaneously: they don’t exist, they are not Eritreans, they are traitors. Clearly if you don’t exist, you can’t be anything; if you are not an Eritrean, you can’t be a traitor. And if you are a traitor, it assumes you are a country with laws.

    5. Now, with respect to the way forward for all these organizations. They were not formed because there was no peace agreement between Eritrea and Ethiopia. They were formed because there are huge problems with the one the country is being run. So what will they do next? If your movement is “Free Aster Yohannes” you won’t stop until they free her. If your movement is set up because you are advocating for religious rights, you won’t stop until they are freed. If you are an exiled media (assenna, for example, or Erena), you won’t stop until you are allowed to practice your craft in your own country or those who can make you irrelevant. Etc, etc.

    6. Similarly, with the political organizations, with political platforms that are presenting themselves as an alternative to the PFDJ’s political platform. They will continue their struggle until they presumably can make it a reality. The confusion here might be that some have convinced themselves all of them are dependent on Ethiopia’s Weyane and with that gone, poof, they will be gone too. (See paragraph 4.) But this is PFDJ propaganda and like all PFDJ propaganda (see also: if only Weyane would be gone the sanctions would be gone), it will be proven false. But don’t take my word for it, check back with me in 3 months.

    7. As to its influence: to my knowledge, Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, Reporters Without Borders, US State Department, Human Rights Council do not have reporters or representatives in Eritrea. Yet, they were able to show to the world the monstrous nature of the Isaias regime. How do you think that happened? Refer to paragraph 3.

    8. The demands of the Eritrean opposition, as fragmented as it is, remain constant and consistent and you will hear them at the demonstration which is being organized now to be held in Geneva:

    a. Free all political prisoners
    b. End the undeclared but defacto state of emergency
    c. End indefinite national service
    d. End culture of violence and impunity
    e. Rule of law and constitutionalism

    9. These are not requests that are dependent on some promise of good behavior. But citizens demands on the Isaias Government. And I added the word “government” so you don’t accuse me of having fixation on the man. In truth, I believe in “truth-in-labeling” and the Eritrean Government has demonstrated, over and over, that it is a one-man show with a rotating band of enforcers. It believes in nothing except ensuring that it is executing the wishes of its boss.

    Thanks!

    saay

    • Fanti Ghana

      Selamat Saay,

      The economist printed a short but to the point article which includes the following quote.

      Mr Isaias governs alone, surrounded by a clique of ageing veterans of the independence struggle. In a café on a tree-lined avenue in Asmara, a 40-year-old conscript points to a photograph of the president on his phone. “You see this man?” he asks. “That man is a dictator.”

      The last sentence is a shocker. This is more or less the first time I read a foreigner quoting an Eritrean in Asmara calling PIA a dictator. That article supports some of the points you raised and the above quote is a sample proof why the “opposition” should not be viewed as a single confined entity.

      In fairness to Yohannes though, addressing Eritrean oppositions as a single unit is what many do including me. I am not sure how we got here but there is the tendency to lump sum the oppositions into a single unit.

      Sorry for getting in between.

      • Paulos

        Selam Fantination,

        Today it was pointing at a picture, tomorrow it will be pointing at the man himself and calling him a dictator. I believe in the Eritrean people!

      • saay7

        Selamat Fanti:

        This is why Ethiopia’s PM is gaining a reputation for being a flatterer* as he kept telling Ethiopians that Isaias Afwerki is called “Wedi Afey.” Yeah, in the 1990s, maybe. The Economist magazine interviews a conscript who calls him a dictator? That’s unusual. In Eritrea, he is not called a dictator because dictators are a dime a dozen in Africa. He is called a monster.

        That was the least illuminating part of the report. Everything the Economist wrote is “yeah, I know that” to any Eritrean who lives in the real world. The ones I feel sorry for (and I mean this genuinely) are those who had been watching the “Come And See” series of videos put together by the propaganda arm of the PFDJ (both arms) to take glamor photos of the monster, with the UNDP country representative always on the ready with her MDG.

        We all speaking of “the opposition” as a blob, so no need to explain yourself, Fanti, nor does Yohannes. I was just using his article as a jumping point to trying to answer one of his questions: what will become of them. Well, it depends who “them” is. It’s funny that Eritrea must be the only country in the world where having an opposition is considered something unusual. As long as there is a government, there is an opposition: the question is does it arrest them and exile them or create space for them. My favorite government supporters are those who give advice to the opposition on what its proper role ought to be. Can’t you at least, sniff, sniff, praise the government when it does things right? Well, no, that’s not the role of the opposition, that’s the role of the state media.

        saay

        * PM Abiye’s address to the Ethiopian Muslims in the US where he told them what he told the UAE leader in their private conversation (you are not practicing Islam) which has gone viral with (1) UAE haters; (2) Gulf country haters; (3) Muslims tired of wahabi hijack of the religion . Now, pick one of the following: (a) he never had that conversation, as he narrated it, and he was merely flattering his audience; (b) he did have it and good for him; (c) he did have the conversation, he broke protocol by disclosing private conversation. I am going with (a) for reasons stated above: he is a flatterer and he can’t stop himself:)

    • Mitiku Melesse

      Hei, saay.
      Fantastic summarize how to describe the universal opposition of Eritrean government and the recipe for one party rule in Eritrea forever.

      What about comparing the real deal breaker done inside Ethiopia by Ethiopians. What about the brave oppositions who sacrificed themselves for the idea thy stood for? They could have late the tplf government rule indefinitely by exaggerating how super natural is tplf the way you exaggerate the supremacy of the ruling party of Eritrea. After all they are made of Eritreans.

    • Mebaye

      Selam Saay7, I’m an Ethiopian and have enjoyed reading your posts for the last few years. I see more intellectual analysis posted in this site than the ones dedicated for Ethiopians. I’m certain that better days are coming for Eritreans, when an Eritrean leader similar to PMAA recognizes the vast knowledge deposited in you all! Until then thank you for being generous in following and commenting on Ethiopian current affairs!
      Mebaye

      • saay7

        Selam Mebaye:

        Thanks buddy. This forum has been very much enriched by its Ethiopian contributors. Over the years, through long exchanges, I am sure we have influenced one another and we will continue to do so.

        I have no doubt at all that from somewhere in Eritrea a leader will emerge, a leader who grasps the idea that a small country like Eritrea needs everyone and will reverse the ruling governments 27 year campaign of መቀነስ. I have known beautiful losers, angry losers, sore losers—-but PFDJ is the only organization I know which is sore when it’s winning. It’s a coalition of the spiteful and petty.

        Thanks for reading us!

        saay

    • Amanuel Hidrat

      Selam Saay, Yohannes, and the rest,

      Is begging to the men in power to change their “political behaviors” is considered as tactic or strategy in bringing change in our country? So far the attitudes of the opposition in particular and the public at large in general is begging to the despot to release the prisoners, to have rule of law in the country, to have a constitution to govern with, so and so….etc. How long we will continue with these attitudes without resoluteness to emancipate our people? How do we neutralize the power of fear that is holding us from being decisive in our struggle? Do dictators heed the begging of their subjects and be nice to them? No brothers and sisters. They only understand power is subdue by power.

      In the current struggle our people are losing everything, while the power of the despot is strengthening to the extent he is deciding the fate of our people and our nation. Expecting to see a change in our country with the a change in our neighboring country, is the hope of “weak subjects”. The new PM of Ethiopia is embracing dictators and bloood thirsty leaders of the past and the present including ours. How does this policy help to the cause of Eritrean people? We need a collective soul searching.

      • Haile S.

        Selam Emma,
        ኤርትራ፡ ደርፊ ጽሃይቱ በራኺ እያ ትደርፍ ዘላ።

        ሓዳረይ መን ክኣልየለይ፡ መን ክኣልየለይ
        ባዕለይ እምበረይ፡ ባዕለይ እምበረይ

        ኣለውኒ ክልተ ቛልዑ
        ብሕነ ወዲ ሕነ ዝባልዑ
        ተካላት ወሊደ ዘይሰምዑ
        ጓኖት እንዳእተዉ ዝጣልዑ
        እንታይ መከራ’ዩ እስከ’ታ ንዑ
        ሓይሊ ሓሳር ስደት ቅትለት ኣብቅዑ
        ኩዕሶታትኩም ደርቢኹም ካብ ትጻፍዑ
        እስኪ መንጎ እግርኹም ኮክዑ
        ዘለኩም ኣርእዩና ተቓልዑ
        Bold ውሳነ ወሲድኩም ተሳማምዑ።

        • Amanuel Hidrat

          ሰላም ሃይላት,

          ንደምበ ተቃውሞ “ላንጋላንጋ” ናይ በለጽ ህይወትን: “ተሻዋሚ ሓሳብ” (ambivalence) ናይ አእምሮ ዕግርግርን እዩ ቀይዱ ንኽንስጉም ከሊኡና ዘሎ:: ኣብዚ ንላዋወጦ ዘለና ሓሳባት’ሞ ናተይ ኢልካ አስተብህለሉ ናይ ነብሲወከፍ። ኣብዚ መደምደምታ ናተይ ከይበጻሕካ አይትተርፍን ኢኻ::

      • saay7

        Selamat Emma:

        I think I used the word “demand”, a word Cuz Gheteb considers haughty (መነዴኹም ክዌንኩም ምስ ኣያታተይ ትዳፈሩ) and you consider too meek like begging (እዋይ ውርደት). But when your basis for requesting what you are entitled to is morality and law*, the proper word is demand (ድማንዳ ኣቕሪቦም right Hailat?). Even the Armed Struggle had a demand list when it was asked what it was fighting for.

        The part that you and I and all oppo agree with is right now, if the bully says “And if I don’t?” (እንተዘየሎ) our answer is not “here comes the stick!” (ዱላ ሎ) but “we will go home” (እንተዝእየሎስ ገዛና ንኸይድ)

        But that’s a limited view. We all agree that change is going to come either the way MaHmuday described (IA/PFDJ led) or when a critical mass of Eritreans overcomes its fears and takes to the streets to protest and list its demands. I have seen no evidence yet for the change envisioned by MS; on the other hand,when the PFDJites in the Diaspora were chanting “Game Over”, there was one lonely youth in Eritrea holding placard which read “Game On Eritrea!”

        Now who do you think is going to inspire the critical mass and the eventual democratic coup leaders? My guess is people they can relate to, people who speak like them, look like them, understand them, and went through the exact same experience they did. And those are the Eritreans who will be demonstrating in Geneva: they including very recent migrants, National Service survivors, and people with horror stories of the IA government. And who will publicize this? Definitely Assenna, definitely Erena but I am thinking also Aljazeera. And we will see what Ethiopia’s newly free media, dozens of them, have to say about the demo particularly since its new Prime Minister called a man formerly accused of being a “terrorist”, Johar, a “freedom fighter and activist” and help up his hand in solidarity sign.

        So, cheer up! 😉

        saay

        • Amanuel Hidrat

          Dear Saay,

          What I am saying is dictators don’t listen be it demand/begging of his subjects. They do whatever that helps them to stay in power. If they think constitutionalism and rule doesn’t they don’t. So far it is the case with our despot. If they believe terrorizing and instilling fear to their subjects works for them, they go for it. It is the same case with our despot. So what good is good to demand to dictators to respect your demands.

          Second, whatever that helps us to rally together against this cruel beast, I am for it. The arguments we had in the past that we register our difference is something after the despot,as to how to empower our politically and administratively to keep the equilibrium of our parts. Let us remove this blood thirsty man who is killing generation after generation to quench his insatiable ego, and stop demanding him.

        • Haile S.

          Selam Sal,

          ዱማንዳ! ዘይትዝክሮ የብልካን!
          ብጊዜ ሃይለስላሰ፡ ንጠቅላይ ግዝኣት ብየማኑ፡ ፊት ንፊት ቤት ትምህርቲ ሞዴል፡ ኣብ ጽሕፈት ቤት ኣፈ-ንጉስ፡ ዱማንዳ፡ ኣቤቱታ ከተእቱ ትስራዕ ዝነበርት፡ ጥቢቆ ዝተኸድነት በትሪ ዝዓተረት ሓፋሽ፡ ይዝከረካ’ዶ? ዋላ እንተ ንኣስካስ፡ ከምዚ ኸማይ ዘዋሪ ዕሲ-ዓዲ እንተኔርካ’ሲ፡ ብእኡ ሓሊፍካ ኣለኻ ኢለ እየ።

  • Teodros Alem

    Selam girmay
    I think u don’t know the real meaning of ignorance, 1st , i didn’t say anything supporting blind nationalism.
    What i said was, i don’t see ethiopiawenet different from any other wenet example kenyawenet, and if u think nation and nationality = ethiopiawenet (me think it is one out of many divers kind of ethiopiawenet) but if u think that way, that is fine and u can practice ur wenet as much as u want with out being joules and with out forcing other to practice it( it is called democracy).
    2nd, i don’t wanna offend eritreans here but if u know where was eritreans 25 years ago( in addis) and where r they living in ethiopia(a country that they fought to separate) now, u wouldn’t talk about eri culture and poltical revolution for a min. Because even talking about it is bordering ignorance.

  • Peace!

    Hi Now Inc,

    እቲ ንሰላም ምድጋፍ ንዑኡን ንኻልእን ይጠቅም እዩ ዝብል እምነት ስለ ዘሎ እዩ. 27 ዓመት ነዞም founding fathers እንታይ ተገይሩሎም? ሰላም ምስ ኢትዮጽያከ እንታይ ከጉድለሎም እዩ ( it reminds me Trump to Black people: what do you have to lose) ስለዚ እቲ ድኽመት ምስዚ ሰላም ዘራኽብ የብሉን. ክንደይ ኩነታት ተዓዚብና ሓሊፍናዮ ነቲ ብድሕሪዚ ዝመጽእውን ተዓዘብቲ ኮና ክንሓልፎ ኢና ስጋዕ ኣብ ጥራይ ኢድና ዘለና.

    Peace!

  • Teodros Alem

    Selam girmay
    Ethiopiawenet is just like any wenet (any country) . i think what u trying to say is ethiopia = nation and nationality. Let it be like that .in this case u just need to focus on ur wenet. I mean worry about tigrai( ur name , most probably)Let the other people enjoy as they know thier own wenet. Why is that bother u guys?

  • halafi mengedi

    Hi Yohannes,

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts. Your points are well taken. Also, good discussions on the forum about the peace process between Eritrea and Ethiopia. Most relevants topics are discussed and questions asked. Unless I missed it somehow, there is one crutial point not raised by you or the forumers, and that is, ‘what does this all mean for the soldiers in the forefront?’ 

    A quick thought of mine:

    I think the peace process will create a great relief to those people who facing death and mayhem every day, and that is very important. It is possible that that because of the uncertainty and lack of transparency,  war could come back with vengeance. But for the individual soldier, every passing day with sentiments leaning towards peace than an imminent conflict/skirmish, is a win. An atmosphere that mitigates a scenario where a soldier’s action in the fore front could be viewed with suspicion and lead drastic action from opposing army anytime and anyday is a win. 

    One important thing I learned during my brief participation in the 2nd part of the 3rd phase of the 98-00 war was thatsoldiers in war situation basically count on days. And any passing day where the balance tilts towards mimized risk for conflict is a win. Because that means they are one day closer to the big day… of their wedding, birth of their child etc that they are always thinking about.

    Although,  we should all ask questions to ensure a lasting peace is achieved, it is a little disheartening to see some from the opposition camp basically coming out against the peace process. I think they are missing one important perspective, the perspective of that soldier facing the fire. No matter how flawed, the change in general atmosphere buys a soldier one more day, for some that one day gained is so valuable as it gets them ever closer to the big day they have planned. And it is not hard to appreciate the value the atmosphere the peace process has created while asking questions of the gov of Eritrea or even of Ethiopia.

    Again, thanks for writing this article.

    Hm

    • Ismail AA

      Selam Halafi Mengedi,

      You have valid point. You are right for the soldiers in the trenches it’s life lived in seconds and minutes. From human point of view they are cannon fodder for politicians, commanders and rulers who risk no such ordeals, and benefit from lives of soldiers to score points on the diplomatic and political chessboards. The contentions that divide views arise from whether peace would serve the best interests of those soldiers and their families in redressing for lost lives, wasted time and resources and enduring injuries. Peace would be tragically burdensome if rulers would use it as means to sustain oppressive power.

    • Hameed Al-Arabi

      Salam Halafi Mengedi,

      ደርሆ ገመድ እንተ ኣንዊሕካላ ዝፈታሕካያ ይመስላ

    • Yohannes Zerai

      Dear halafi mengedi,

      Thank you so much for your powerful comment which drew my attention to an issue that was, frankly, not at the forefront of my mind – at least, not with the level of gravity you have eloquently portrayed. This was the case not because of insensitivity or indifference, on my part, to the safety and well being of those Eritreans who have been placed perpetually in harm’s way to defend the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the nation. It was rather a direct result of lack of experience in not having put my life on the line – like you did, and your comrades continue to do – and not having been directly exposed to the cruel environment in which you all served for months and years in agonizing pain, suffering and uncertainty. All I can do now is honor (and express my gratitude) to all the heroic men and women in the army who put their lives on the line every day to defend their people and country.

      As regards the peace process, I would think that the majority of Eritreans in he opposition movement do support, in principle, the peace deal that is being worked out by the two governments. But they are also voicing their concerns to ensure that: (i) the Eritrean people will have a voice in shaping the final peace agreement and its implementation, and (ii) that the final peace agreement will be equitable in the benefits it brings to the Eritrean people. As part of this overall effort, Eritreans should work hard to make sure that the interests and well being of the memers of the Eritrean Defence Forces (EDF), past and present, do not fall through the cracks. You certainly have taken the first and leading step in that effort, and we thank you for it.

  • Peace!

    Selam Ghirmay,

    In politics what really matters is public support; a simple example, Trump is the president of the United States of America. TPLF lost public support and is gone for good. The hunt for thugs would soon be underway. In fact, today random searches reported in the the city of Mekele.

    Peace!

    • Mitiku Melesse

      Hei, Peace.
      They luck public support because they made their living making conflict between ethnic groups, religion groups, nations. What Abiy and his supporters do the exact opposite of tplf. I dont know how tigrians understand it but we understand tplf like Mosoloni. Let me harass you forever and loot your wealth and suck your sweat and blood like slaves. One slight difference with Mosoloni. Mosoloni had the guns at least while the tplf sneak around with their poison..

      • Peace!

        Hi MM,

        That’s precisely the point. Have you watched the recent speech by Debretsion, he pretty much said unless our looting license restored, the fate of Ethiopia is disintegration. No limit to utter evilness. The reality is though those days are over, and it is time for the good dr to toughen up and get the thugs ASAP. They are famous for bing malicious.

        Peace!

        • Abi

          Hi Peace
          Now the representatives of the thugs in this forum will call you a “hater” of the Tigray people.

          • Peace!

            Abish,

            Lol… I get used to it. It has been years, but the sad part is though people fall into that and up vote them for being malicious, sort of ፍቅር ያሸንፋል 🙂

            Peace!

        • Mitiku Melesse

          Hei, Peace.
          It takes years a drug addict to rehabilitate willingly. Imagine the time it takes by force. Debretsion addiction to Ethiopian wealth and blood is more than drug and he has no plan to work and live in peace. He is terrified that when he stops sucking other wealth he becomes that miserable barefooted with that dirty rugs which couldnt cover those malnourished limbs which are difficult to tell which one is arms or legs. But Ethiopia is enough for all of us. Imagine this looser has all the resource to let Tigray stand by itself or Ethiopians are dependent on Tigray wealth, then he could have declared already in 1991. By the way his dream was supposed to declare independence but his greed showed him more possibilities to loot from Ethiopia for mamma Tigray. His addiction was telling him only today then i declare, some more then i declare, now i declare, some more… addiction in its worst form.

          But coming to the speech he made there is only one fact. It was the plan. And it was aborted. You cant buy knowledge but you can bye degrees.

          • Peace!

            MM,

            Can’t add more, well covered!
            To the thugs representative: ጥርስህ ሲወላልቅ የምቀርህ ምላስ ብቻ ስለሚሆን ያለህ ብቸኛ ኣማራጭ በባዶ ሜዳ መጮህ ብቻ ነው::

            Peace!

  • Blink

    Dear Girmay
    The train will not wait for you man . Get your old bags and throw them to what ever side you have and buy new one . Get on the train and stop splitting the hair .

  • Mitiku Melesse

    Hei, Abdulworld.
    No, he is not being sarcastic. He is so angry the feudal system of Tigray was abolished by modern children of Ethiopia. He couldnt stand it the very people who were victims of tplf have started ruling Ethiopia. Not only that, the new leaders released all political/conscious prisoners, allowed freedome of speech (you have no idea how the barbaric feudal woyanes ,tried to make their ethnic rule Ethiopia in feudal system), clean all Ethiopian governmental offices from woyanes, made peace with Eritrea where the war was the woyanes precious export, peace among Ethiopians ethnic group where civil war cash crop of woyanes, and clean Ethiopian orthodox church from woyane cadres and brought the exiled church back home, made peace between all Ethiopain diaspors. Can you imagine how all these action made tplf humulated, not only that the new leaders are campaigning for forgiveness for woyane., This much is how modern we are compared to where Woaynes are.

  • abdulworld

    Hello Yohannes,
    This is very good article. My thinking is the Eritrean opposition is like you said stuck on Issias . I think written article and demonizing Issias or PDJF can only go so far.
    Change only happens not because people suffered so much but when people get a taste of something better.
    Eritrean people(home and diaspora) are sick of dirty and germ-infused water called Eritrean government and the people are thirsty.
    What has the opposition being doing- telling the Eritrean people that water is dirty and bad.
    Does that help? No! because the people are thirsty.
    What can the opposition do? Give the people a clean cup of water and quench their thirst…
    1. Eritrean government has no vision or 5/10/20 year plans. It is guerrilla army. Survival is its vision. Opposition can provide Eritrea vision of its stand and why…

    2. Generational shift- Dr. Abiy is generational shift leadership. The sad reality is that Eritrean opposition leadership is exact duplicate of Eritrean government. It is same Gedhli generation in leadership with no experience in running a civil society.

    3. There are many Eritrean asking and looking at Dr. Abiy and asking themselves why can’t we do that… they have Phd with exceptional social intelligence and we got a college drop out guerilla figher…

    4. If the Eritrean Opposition is going to have impact on future of Eritrea- its Gedhli generation leadership needs to move into advisory role and opposition leadership should recruit and encourage the Post-Gedhli generation leadership. This would be complete contrast to Eritrean government and it can have impact on Eritrean people giving them a “taste of something better”… a clean water..

    5. Of course to do all this requires talent, ability, and complete love of your people and their future. It is easy to throw stones but can you build a house. For last 25 years, we have been waiting for an opposition that has mindset for building house.

    • Blink

      Dear Abdulworld
      It seems people are changing these days , I can’t believe you wrote this thinking about everything. Way to go man , way to go . Great points. Rarely do I agree with you but it seems something is going right.

      • Fanti Ghana

        Selamat blink,

        I want to ask the following while your “reception” antenna is up and running properly.

        1. Do you know there is a book titled ‘blink’, and if so did you choose your nick based on that?

        2. Do you also know the word ‘blink’ is an attempt to say ‘ብልጭ’.

        Thank you.

        • Kim Hanna

          Selam Fanti Ghana,

          I also wondered about it. I just didn’t have the sufficient “enten” to ask him about it.

          If you blink you will miss it is a common saying. It means that during that blink period (momentary blindness), you are quite blind and cannot see what is going on.

          With that in mind I look forward to his response.

          Mr. K.H

          • Fanti Ghana

            Selam Mr. President Kim Hanna,

            If you get a chance, find and read the book. The author, Malcolm Gladwell, is hilarious in the first few pages. I will not spoil it for you, but take my word it is a good book.

        • Blink

          Dear Fanti
          1.I answered such question long time ago and plus I gave my review of the book .MALCOLM GLADWELL did not add more but I believe the book should have more exposure to us . The main thing is a mighty backstage process, which works its will subconsciously. And this process is having a great time in data processing mechanism especially in the oil cracking business as well as wire consistency.
          2. Mine is completely different.

          • Fanti Ghana

            Hello blink,

            Sorry, I didn’t know you already explained that before, but now that you mentioned it I am feeling I may have known that. It is weird but I am about to say I do remember and I don’t at the same time.
            Double blinked?

            2. is according to me, hence prone to error!

          • Fanti Ghana

            Selam blink,

            I didn’t see the last part earlier.

            You won’t believe how the new “peace” have complicated my life. Too complex to give details, but me with my family and several families are stuck in circular “I won’t go without you” and some moral dilemma. It may be a while to coordinate.

        • Amde

          Hi Fanti,

          A Blink is not a ብልጭ.

          A Blink is a double barrelled ጥቅሻ. TwinWinks. I am sure Blink agrees.

          Amde

  • Nitricc

    “”ወትሩ ዕዉታት እንኾነሉ ምስጢር እንታይ’ዩ?

    ዘይጽዓድ መንፈስ፡ ጽንዓት ኣብ መስመርን ልዑል ጽሮትን እምበኣር ዓንዲ ማእከል ሃገራዊ ክብርታትና እዩ እንተተባህለ ካብ
    ሓቂ ዝረሓቐ ኣይኮነን። ምኽንያቱ፡ ሃገራዊ ፍቕርኻ ብግብሪ ንምርኣይ ዝጠልቦ ተጻዋርነት ኣሎ። ጅግንነት፡ መዓንጣን
    ድፍረትን ጥራይ ዘይኮነ ልዑል ተጻዋርነት ይሓትት። ስእነት፡ ሕሱም ጥሜት፡ ጽምኢ፡ ከቢድ ዕርቃን ወዘተ. ምጽዋር እቲ ዝዓበየ መግለጺ ናይ ጅግንነትን ትብዓትን እዩ። ንስለ ሓቂን ፍትሒን ነግ ፈረግ ከይበልካ ጸኒዕካ ደው ምባል ብዘይ ተጻዋርነት ዝከኣል ዕማም ኣይኮነን። ልምዓት እውን ከም ዕላማ፡ ጸገማትን ብድሆታትን ተጸሚምካ ከይሓለፍካ ክብጻሕ ዝኽእል ኣይኮነን። እቲ ንኹሉ ብድሆታት ኣስጊሩ ብተደጋጋሚ ንዓወት ዘብቅዓና ዘሎ ክብሪ እምበኣር ብቐንዱ እዚ ነቕ ዘይብል ጽንዓት ኣብ መስመርን ልዑል ተጻዋርነትን እዩ።””

  • Girmay

    Hi Yohannes, I enjoyed reading your article. I to say that part of Ethiopian and Eritrean political and cultural stagnation has been due to the fact Ethiopia the feudal and monarch based society never went through a renaissance period to elevate its population to the modern society. Ethiopian mental and cultural attitude 400 years ago is the same as today. The Ethiopian mental attitude is wired with feudalistic thinking and a lot of values that have dictatorial tendencies .Ethipopia’s political problems will never never be solved without cultural revolution. For Europe the Renaissance period basically wiped out a lot of feudal values that impeded democracy and imagination.
    I believe that in the past 20 years many courgeous Eritreans have played a great role to start their own Eritrean Renissance. I understand this Eritrean cultural Renissance to mean from blind Eritrean nationalism to a healthy Eritrean nationalism evaluated by a healthy debate . There is no horn African community that is waging a fierce political and cultural debate as much as the Eritreans are doing. The credit for the Eritrean and cultural Renissance goes to the great Eritrean intellecuals on this forum, many different Eritrean radio and news personality. Collectively some of you call yourself opposition, or justice seekers. I call you the engines of Eritrean cultural and political Renissance .
    Therefore, the current or future Ethiopian politics that is still stuck in the feudal era can never be a threat to the engines of Eritream cultural and political Renissance.
    If you notice Ethiopians now are divided by group thinking. The kind that you see in high school cafeteria. Have you ever seen Ethiopians of different political pursuation debate on issues fiercely ? Have you ever seen Ethiopians from different ethnic groups debate politics and culture honestly and openly? Have you ever seen Ethiopian intellecuals standing up for an ethnic other than their own? The answer to these questions is nope.
    The engines of Eritrean cultural and political Renissance keep it up. I enjoy many of you disagree on this forum in a very healthy way. At times you have fierce debate, and I worry that it might make you hate each other, then the next day I see you debate more.
    All of you must know when you see genuine human been debate and think , they touch all human beings regardless of religion, political persuasion, or nationality . Thank you all for that. We Ethiopians have a lot to learn from from the engines of Eritrean cultural and political Renissance.

    • saay7

      Girmay:

      Thank you very much: this is the nicest thing I have read about what we are trying to do here at this forum. Actually, it is exactly what we are trying to do. I think when we had our first group of Ethiopians join the forum–Eyob, Kaddis were the first I think–that is the reason they gave: that it is refreshing and idea-driven and makes great effort to keep the conversation civil and cordial (the main reason we insist on people beginning their posts with salutation.) And when pressured to prioritize Eritreanism over civility, we said we will take a polite Ethiopian over a rude Eritrean any time—and this was long, long before “medemer”, when the “patriotic” thing to do was not to talk to Ethiopians.

      saay

      • Ismail AA

        Hayak Allah saay,

        I appreciate your cognizance and sensitivity to sharp and genuine observations people like Girmay make about this uniquely free and tolerant outlet. In this regard, commendation and reciprocity are helpful. I think worthy Ethiopian brothers/sisters do appreciate the service and freedom they enjoy.

    • David Samson

      Selam Girmay,

      We have been haunted by the debacle of ‘Singapore of Africa’ since the Maoists’ rolled their tanks in to the streets of Asmara. Some Eritreans have not come out of their ‘Trance State’ yet. It looks like you want to overdose us with 15th’s century Europe again.

      WeyGud. I have taken enough fake Cocaine and am looking for an authentic one. Do you have one?

    • iSem

      Hi Girmay:
      What is your unit of measurement of the tolerance that we Eritreans exude and that you are showering us with?
      Let see:
      The Eritrean opposition multiplied every year for the last 20 years and the endless meeting could not even agree on the most rudimentary things about ethnicity and memebership. The Eritrean government has never released a single political prisoners do date, the Eritrea government which is made up Eri people for all intent of purposes have never, ever allowed families to visit political prisoners
      I do not know much of the debates you guys have, but I know your government released political prisoners during TPLF and now, even Mengistu will come home soon, yes the murder Megistu who sent over million people to the gallows
      So where is our civilized debate and where is the Ethiopian lack of civilized debate lacking
      It is counter intuitive, I am suspecting you are giving us drugs so we support IA in his treasonous endeavors. No need to go there Girmiyous, nothign will happen to IA, we will coalesce around him. It is a deal. Business will bloom and Ethiopia will survive for an other 3000 years, producing prides for prophets, safe keeping the arc of covenant, claiming its linkage to the most wise man on the history of the world
      if you are really Ethiopian, please, please, do not flatter us, good luck with some, but nice try with the some of us
      if you are Eritean, shame on you. We are not broken yet, but we are on the verge f of it
      The unit of measurement should be the fruits of our debates, if the

      • David Samson

        Selamat isem,

        Thanks for summing up my feeling.

        The only thing I want to change is ‘drugs’ should be ‘FAKE drug’s as I alluded on my comment.
        is Menga, ‘The Black Stanlist’, is in the process of rehabilitation?

        If this is true, Mama Ethiopia is going absolute bonkers.

        • David Samson

          Selamat isem,

          Yes, it is true that Mengistu is ‘Back from dead’. What a shock!

          What would be the next move by the Medemer PM: Isiasa hugging and embracing Mengistu?. It just reminds me of Wedi Gebru’s song-Nkulu

          The spineless and wimp former PM’s of Ethiopia, had tried in vain to remove the photo from his Twitter’s Account. Little did he know we live in 24 hours society.
          The honey money days of PMAA are well true behind him.

          • FishMilk

            Hi David Samson. Also now seeing on satenow.com ‘Derg Officials Sheltering in Italian Embassy May be Pardoned’, where Berhanu Bayeh and Addis Tedla may soon be released. Now that would be a real shocker.

          • David Samson

            Hi FM,

            This is no longer anymore about politics but human decency. The PM has gone the extra-mile to accommodate a blood thirsty monster and his lynch men.

            I naively believed that Ethiopians’ have closed their worst chapter in history. How wrong I was?

            African politics is like going around a circle. You might feel you have broken a painfully circle and moved on, but only to wake up the next morning that you are in fact back to square one.

            I thought Berhanu Bayeh and Addis Tedla had died in the Embassy long time ago.

          • Simon Kaleab

            Selam David,

            For your information, Berhanu Bayeh killed Tesfaye G/Kidan by hitting him with a wine bottle on the head, after an argument within the Italian Embassy many moons ago.

            On the one hand, the peace overtures of the new PM towards Eritrea are positive, but on the other, his hugging of all and sundry including setting free some zoo-like creatures makes me suspicious. For example, persecution complex driven, perpetual moaners and arch criminals such as OLF and ONLF are allowed in, in all likelihood, without disarming.

            Next breaking news will be a red carpet reception, katikala [Mengistu’s favourite booze] included, for Mengistu, at Bole airport.

          • David Samson

            Selam Simon,

            The PM might turn out to be one of those in disguise- ’Oneness’ and ‘Ethiopia First’- of past leaders of Ethiopia. As the days go by, he is beginning to show his true colours and the peace we have now might be short-lived.

            It seems to me that in Ethiopian politics, so long as you sing the same song of Andnet, you are a hero, regardless of your crimes. Crimes pays if you repeat the same Andnet song.

            I hope that the PM should also invite families whose lives are ruined by Mengistu and their memory is still raw, when the butcher gets a ‘red carpet’

          • Abraham H.

            Dear David Samson, in all these medemer hoopla of the Ethiopian PM, all Tigrayans and other Ethiopians who are the uninvited ones in this newfound party, as well as Eritreans outside the DIA worshiper camp, should be wary and be ready for all eventualities.

          • FishMilk

            Hi David Samson. I believe that letting Menghistu and his Derg henchmen off the hook is simply wrong. Peace and reconciliation efforts should never forget justice if they are to be sustainable.

      • Girmay

        Hello isem, I am really Ethiopian. You see there is a healthy debate going in this wonderful forum. Many political and cultural discussions are been planted. Yes, they are not full grown trees for Eritreans to sit and enjoy its shadows. 100 years from now Eritrean people will value all these intense discusses through radio, forum and others. They will appreciate the roots that you planted.
        In the case of my country Ethiopia which prides itself of having thousands years of independence and civilization, you dont see healthy political discussion. At this moment the most highly educated Ethiopians blame all Ethiopia’s political and cultural stagnation on 7 million Tigreans. Mind you, their suffering of thousands of dying of starvation is still fresh in their mind. Ethiopian intellecuals have now opted to unite Ethiopians with one reason, common hate for Tigreans. For these reasons, I dont appreciate Ethiopian intellecuals living abroad or in Ethiopia.
        In regards to political prisoners been freed, if there is no healthy political culture be assured there will be new prisoners.
        I will like to assure this is my opinion, and I am ready to learn. Thanks for the feed back. I enjoy your contribution to the discussion.

    • Yohannes Zerai

      Dear Girmay,

      Thank you very much for approaching the ongoing political debate about our region from a different angle. You certainly bring a different perspective to the mix. Most of all, I do appreciate your paying tribute to the hundreds of Eritrean and Ethiopian citizens who are genuinely doing their best to help improve conditions of their respective peoples and countries. That they still have not succeeded in bringing about the change they seek should not make the rest of us underestimate their efforts and belittle the seemingly imperceptible advances they are making towards achieving the outcomes that their peoples await eagerly and anxiously. Please continue your participation in this forum.

      Thank you

      • Girmay

        Hello Yohannes, thanks for the feed back . I process the feed back. I am still learning.

    • Nitricc

      Hi Girmay; please don’t mind the likes of Semere-Ewur if they filed to see and understand your point. You see, old people can’t see the future, it scares them and they don’t like it, while they do best what happened the past, likewise, Young people see the future and they don’t give a hoot about the past. So, when Semere reacted the way he did, he can’t see the future because he is an old fool from the past. When you disguise like a woman to scape your country to avoid the call of duty, what else is there? Now, I agree with you that Eritrea’s future is simply bright. Eritrea’s greatest advantage is that there is no political culture and a nation future is depended on the quality of its political culture. Eritreans have the opportunity to shape that political culture to be the best. Political culture is shaped by the quality of election, which we never had one i.e. we have the opportunity one of the best. Constitution, we never had constitution I.e. we have the advantage on of the most modern and protective of the people from the state. The rule of law, we never had a rule of law i.e. knowing the importance of the rule of law i.e. Eritreans have the greatest honor to implement one of its kind and finally it is about the people, should I say anything about the people of Eritrea? NO. So, Girmay; you are absolutely correct about the future of Eritrea, believe that.

      • Girmay

        Hi Nitricc, I think its ok for ism to share his ideas or perceptions of my opinion. I think I will learn from them. Perhaps its a good idea to be good natured even with those who disagree with us. I understand it is easier said than done but we have to try.
        Thanks for the exchange.

  • Peace!

    Hi Yohannes,

    Good read, thank you. Just to add a couple more to your well thought recommendations:

    1 መንእሰይ ዘይተሳተፎ ተቓወሞ ክዕወት ኣይካኣለን ዝኽእልውን ኣይመስልን ስለዚ እቲ ሽማግለ ነቲ መንእስይ ኣረኪቡ ከም ኣማኻሪ ተራ ክጻወት ዝሓሸ ይመስል. (ለውጢ ኣብ እትዮጽያ ብመንእስይ እዩ መጽዩ)

    2. እንታይ ዓይነት ለውጢ ብኸመይ መንገዲ ብጉቡእ ተደምዲሙ እቲ ኣብ ደገ ዘሎ ዜጋ ተርኡ ብጉቡእ ክፈልጥ ክኽእል ምግባር

    3 ቀጻሊ ዝርርብ Dialogue ኣብ ሞንጎ ኩሎም ምእመናን, ብሔርን ካልኦት ኣካል ናይትሕብረተስብ ብምግባር ነዚ ዘሎ ቁስሊ ኣሕውዩ ሓድሽ ሓድነት ምፍጣር

    4 እቲ ቐንዲ ተሳታፍን, ተጠቃምን, ተጠቃዕን እቲ ኣብ ውሽጢ ዘሎ ሕዝቢ ስለዝኾነ ዱልዱል Network ምፍጣር

    Peace!

    • Yohannes Zerai

      Selam Peace,

      I fully concur with each item of your recommendations which I find consistent with the ideas I tried to present in the article. Thank you for your helpful contribution to the discussion.

  • Simon Kaleab

    Selam all,

    Isn’t the EPLF/PFDJ the result of 30 years of popular will? A disparate collection of people who accidentally came into one geographic entity, under the jackboots of Italian colonialism, on the surface, aspired for nationhood but are suspicious of each other and are divided deep down. This is the crux of the problem: to stand as a nation, until such point people forgo regionalism and mixing politics with religion, Eritrea will always require a firm hand.

    It is not the EPLF/PFDJ that created division, but on the contrary existing societal divisions created the EPLF. The organisation that came out of this division evolved into a disciplined Maoist guerrilla war fighting machine. We supported this machine knowingly, we got what we see/saw.

    All the opposition groups, the living dead, have their roots in the pre-independence guerrilla movements, rest assured, they will never bring democracy. In fact, with the way Eritrean society is setup, there will never be multi-party democracy; get used to this and aim low.

  • MS

    Selam Yohanness
    I was expecting you to declare the current so-called political organizations dead and come up with new refreshing ideas. You did not do that. For the record, your theme is anchored around self-appraisal and creating a unified and responsible opposition. I guarantee you, that has been the theme of the maligned group derisively known as the “ultra-nationalist.” We have called upon responsible elements of the opposition to coalesce around core national issues and we were called names. We reminded the risk of factions and individuals that peddled Wayane ideology and its anti-Eritrea schemes, we were called PFDJistats, Issaiasists…name it.
    So, that theme has been on sale for sometime, it just did not get a buyer from the leaders of the “opposition.” UNLESS THEY CHANGE their premises and MO, I don’t believe the current political groups will play any positive role in reconstituting Eritrean politics. They are just too much messed up and compromised by their former handlers.
    In the spirit of cooperation and respect, I will say the following
    1. Renounce all forms of violence as a means to seize power.
    2. Acknowledge there is a government in Eritrea, not Shifta or Mafia.
    3. Call upon the government to open a channel through which the opposition could communicate their readiness to contribute to the political reconstruction of the country.
    4.1. if the government accepts the offer, engage with it genuinely. Parties, political programs and ideologies should be seen as mechanisms through which society improves its political culture; they should not be seen as religious scriptures or as religious congregations.
    4.2. if the government fails to accept it, then invest inside the country. Diaspora grouping and regrouping will not have much of an effect. The opposition as a brand has been damaged so badly that we will have to find a term to denote the idea that the term contains. And please don’t blame PFDJ, the opposition was born still.
    “እቲ ሕመረት ናይ’ዚ ናይ ሎሚ ደምበ ተቓውሞ ኤርትራ እንብሎ ሓይሊ፡ ብመጋቢት1999; መንግስቲ ወያነ ሳልሳይ ወራር ክገብር ክዳሎ እንከሎ ብተብተብ ኣብ ካርቱም ተጋቢኡ “ኪዳን ኤርትራውያን ሃገራውያን ሓይልታት” ዝስመ ውድብ ፈጠሩ። እተን ወሰንቲ ኣባላት ናይ’ቲ ሽዑ ዝተመስረተ ኪዳን ውላዳት (progenies) ተሓኤ እየን። ካብ እዋን ብረታዊ ቃልሲ ጀሚሩ፡ ከም መቐጸልታ ናይ’ቲ ኣብ መንጎ ጀብሃን ሻዕብያን ዝነበረ ግርጭት፡ ኣብ ተቓውሞ ዝነበራ እየን። ቅድሚ ናጽነት ኣንጻር ህግ ድሕሪ ናጽነት ድማ ኣንጻር እቲ ህግ ዝመስረቶ ግዝያዊ መንግስቲ ኤርትራ ዝተፈላለየ ስትራተጅታት ዘካተተ ቃልሲ ዘካይዳ ዝነበራ ሓይልታት እየን።

    ስለ’ዚ፡ መቐጸልታ ናይ’ቲ ኣረጊት ግርጭት እየን ነይረን እምበር እቲ ድሕሪ ናጽነት ኤርትራ ዝተፈጥረ ሓድሽ ክውንነት ዝፈጠረን ኣይነበራን። ብሓጺሩ፡ ባህርያዊ ውጽኢት ናይ’ቲ ሓድሽ ክውንነት ስለዘይነበራ፡ ነቲ ድሕሪ ናጽነት ብፍላይ ድማ ድሕሪ 2001 ዝተፈጥረ ናይ ቅዋም ወይ ናይ ደሞክራሲ ቅልውላው ንምምላስ ባህሪ ይኹን፡ ትሕዝቶ፡ ልምዲ ኣይነበረንን። ኣተሓሳስበአን ኣብ በለጽን ኣብ “ሕጂ ተረኽበን” ዝተሰረተ ነቲ ኣብ ብረታዊ ተጋድሎና ዝተረኽበ ዘሕዝን ታሪኽ ከም ድሕረባይተአን ገይረን እየን ተበጊሰን። ብሓጺሩ፡ ንህግ ዓሊኻ ተሓኤ ዳግም ካብ ምዉታን ንምትሳእ እዩ ዝመስል እቲ ቀንዲ ደራኺ ምኽንያት ናይ’ቲ ተበግሶ። በዚ ምኽንያት ከኣ ውላዳት ናይ’ቲ ሓድሽ ክውንነት ስለዘይነበራ፡ ነቲ ኣብ ኤርትራ ዝተፈጥረ ሓድሽ ፖለቲካዊ ብደሆ ንምምላስ ዝተዋደዳ ስነኣእምሮኣዊ፡ ፖለቲካዊ፡ ባህላዊ ይኹን ውድባዊ ኣበጋግሳ ኣይነበረንን።”
    (ማሕሙድ ሳልሕ፡ “ስለምንታይ ደምበ ተቓውሞ ኣብ ጋምም-ማን ይነብር ኣሎ 2ይ ክፋል” ካብ ዝብል ጽሑፍ ዝተቖንጨለ እዩ)
    5. After having reviewed the intricate web of these 35+ organizations (some estimate them to be 50+), U have concluded that they could not constitute as models of future pluralistic Eritrea. But as citizens, provided they renounce violence, or regroup to manageable size with realistically restated programs, they may contribute to the overall stability of the country and may enrich the transitional political literature and discourse.
    6. It is my understanding that we can’t speak of parties at this stage when there are no laws that govern them. Therefore, their immediate role should be engaging the new process with positive agendas
    7. Those civil societies that call for civil issues will not be affected, we know the swindlers and the genuine ones.
    8. You wrote: “…and his emissaries’ cozying up and capitulation to an erstwhile foe may well prove to be a turning point in Eritrea’s politics of despotism. ”
    I think you are still not accepting the fact that the Eritrean delegation was not “cozying up” with an “erstwhile foe,” they were cozying up with a friendly government that had expressed its readiness to engage Eritrea in a respectful manner. The party that had condemned Eritrea to death is now out of office, shrunk to its proper size. Both the delegation and the Ethiopian officials who accorded it the warm welcome were celebrating the defeat of a a group that posed existential threat to Ethiopia and Eritrea. There is a new order in the region and misreading this crucial element may lead one to a erroneous assessment which in turn will inevitably lead to wrong conclusions.
    9. I think both the government and patriotic elements in the opposition should sober up and put the interest of the nation first. We must push for national dialogue and reconciliation. The era of using violent means to overthrow governments is over; the era of dismantlement is over. Eritrea is in a better position to resume its political infrastructure and it will be done. The immediate goal should not be regime change but bringing a comprehensive political and attitudinal change.
    10. Question: Are you still of the idea that the international community should not support Eritrea economically?
    I always enjoy your articles and that is why I’m critical.

    • Amanuel

      Hi MS
      “2. Acknowledge there is a government in Eritrea, not Shifta or Mafia” WHAT HAS GONE IN TO YOU THIS DAYS MAN?

    • saay7

      Hala MaHmuday:

      Ok, so you have listed a few things the opposition has to do to rehabilitate itself in the eyes of MS. You have also listed one thing both the opposition and the government have to do. Can you think of anything else the government must do? Like, I don’t know, renounce violence and stop calling the opposition traitors?

      Saay

      • MS

        Ahlan SAAY
        (Siren)
        The government of our kboor and dear and beloved and farsighted and gallant (aka: Harsna wo farsna wo huwa qaed umetna.) is here by directed by the great Mahmuday to do the following;
        1. Come to the Mic, face the people, and explain each and everything you do.
        2. Release prisoners arrested under national security pretext now that the war has ended, pardon those who should be pardoned, and let families of those who could not be released know their whereabouts and give them regular access; reform the justice system where due process is given due focus;
        3. Establish a commission that investigates corruption and abuse of power that people have been complaining of; arrest, fire or retire those who have been found to be guilty;
        4. Begin immediately to (i) rally Eritreans for a promising future, no one left behind, even SAAY; (ii) announce officially that the government is for everyone including SAAY and excluding Hameed Al-Arabi, and that they are welcome to participate in the reconstruction process;
        5. restructuring the bureaucracy to reflect the new peace-time governing, lean but efficient, and based solely on meritocracy, capacity building should be given priority as the country is opening for a wide range of opportunities (construction, tourism, hospitality sector, port management; mining; fishing…
        6. Identify those sought for treason (individuals and factions, no question we will have some of them; or make a blanket amnesty (a desired one)
        7. Immediate consultation with those who are ready to contribute to the new spirit of friendship and cooperation (those who define the government of Eritrea as a government and not as a mafia or shifta)- on how to move from here on, in the form of bilateral negotiations or a national conference
        8. Laying down steps on how to consolidate the national dialogue, which may map out the transition period to democracy
        ————————————
        You keep playing fechew with the term treason; let’s see what it is with the following caveat:
        a/ treason is defined by law, and each country defines it slightly differently; it has been abused by powers to silence their opponents.
        b/ treason is always defined by the winners since laws are written by those in power, and the authority to implement the laws are bestowed upon them.
        But it generally embodies; the use of force to overthrow a government, and the betrayal of one’s country by aiding and abetting the enemy.
        Note: Ethiopia and Eritrea were in a state of war from May 1998 to July 9, 2018.
        In the U.S., treason is defined as follows:
        “Whoever, owing allegiance to the United States, levies war against them or adheres to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort within the United States or elsewhere, is guilty of treason and shall suffer death, or shall be imprisoned not less than five years and fined under this title but not less than $10,000; and shall be incapable of holding any office under the United States”
        (Siren: switch off)

        • Abraham H.

          ሰላማት ማሕሙዳይ፣ ወይ ጉድ! ሰብ ‘ዶ ኣብ ዘይሰምዖ ደብሪ ክምህለል ይነብር ኢዩ?
          ኣነ ክነግረካ ኢሳያስ ኣፍወርቂ ሓንቲ ዝርድኣ ቋንቋ፣ ቋንቋ ናይ ሓይልን ኣፍንጫ ምዂራፍን ጥራይ ኢያ። ንሓደ ኣረሜን ለሚንካ ተምጽኦ ወላ ሓንቲ ለውጢ የለን። ህዝቢ ኤርትራ ኣብ ትሕቲ ጽላል ናይ ደለይቲ ፍትሒ ተጠርኒፉ ነዚ ኣብ ከርሱ ኣትዩ ዘሳቕዮ ዘሎ ገበነኞ ጉጂለ ኢሳያስ፣ ሓንሳብን ንሓዋሩን ካብ ሱሩ ምስ ዝነቕሎ ጥራይ ኢዩ፣ ንፋስ ሰላም ዘተንፍስ።
          ካብ ኢሳያስ ለውሃት፣ ርህራሀ፣ ሕድገት ወዘተ ዝኣመሰሉ ሰናይ ተግባራት ምጽባይ፣ ክቱር የዋህነት ጥራይ ኢዩ ዝኸውን።
          ሕጂ ውን እንተኾነ ኣብ ኤርትራ መንግስቲ ዘይኮነስ ናይ ሰረቕትን ዓመጽትን ከተርትን ስርዓት ኢዩ ዘሎ።

          • Peace!

            Abraham,

            ጹቡቕ ገይርካ ኣቐሚጥካያ ኣለኻ ግን እቲ ሽግር ኮይኑ ዘሎ መን ዓጢቑ ንዛ ዝበልካያ ይተግብራ? ካበይ እዩኽ ክብገስ?

            Peace!

          • Abraham H.

            ሰላማት ሰላም፥
            ዘልኣለም ተጸቒጡን ተዋሪዱን ዝነብር ህዝቢ ኣብ ዓለም የለን። ህዝቢ ኤርትራ ውን ዉዒሉ ሓዲሩ ይኣክል ዝብለሉ እዋን ከምዝምጽእ ኣይትጠራጠር። ወላ ውን እዚ ስርዓት ነዚ ኣብ ከባቢና ተፈጢሩ ዘሎ ሓድሽ ምዕባለታት ዕጥይጥይ ኣናበለ ይኸዶ እንተሃለወ፣ እቲ ን18 ዓመታት መመላእታ ክሽቅጠሉ ዝጸንሐ ምኽንያት ኩነተ ኵናት ምስ ኢትዮጵያ ኣብ ዘብቅዓሉ እዋን፣ ህዝቢ ኤርትራ ውን ብኡ መጠን ጠለባቱ ንለውጢ ክምዝዛይድ ርዱእ ኢዩ። ስለዚ እቲ ዘድሊ ብቑዕን ጠርናፍን ኣመራርሓ ጥራይ ኢዩ። ብናተይ ኣረዳድኣ፣ ዝበዝሐ ክፋል ህዝቢ ኤርትራ ነዚ ኣብ ሃገሩ ዘሎ ስርዓት ኣብ ዝሓጸረ እዋን ኣልጊሱ፣ ንቡር ሂወት ክመርሕ ከምዝደሊ እዩ።

          • Peace!

            Abraham,

            “እቲ ዘድሊ ብቑዕን ጠርናፍን ኣመራርሓ ጥራይ እዩ” እዚ ጥራይ እቲ ሽግር እንተኾይኑ 100% ምሳኻ ኣለኹ.

            ግን ኣነ ብደገ ዝመጽእ ለውጢ ካብ ጥቕሙ ጉድኣቱ ስለዝበዝሕ ብዙሕ ኣየድህበሉን እየ ምናልባት ናይቲ ዘይምጥርናፍ ሳዕቤን ከይኮነ እውን ኣይተርፍን እዩ.

            Peace!

          • Amanuel Hidrat

            Selam Abraham,

            Mahmuday is making a campaign to exonerate the serial killer as oppose to standing with the victims and family of victims. In doing so he is trying to build a case against the opposition on treason basis. So that he can equate that both the treasonous act and the killing of citizen without due process are the same criminals, and therefore let us give blanket amnesty. This kind of affection to beast will not cross the mind of the victim families and to those who are fighting for justice. At least, finally his position made clear.

          • Nitricc

            Hi Abraham; so, why don’t you go and fight? You people are lost. You want sit your fat azz while growing side-ways but you have no problem wanting some one to do it for you. I know you and your likes are too outdated to understand what is going on. you had 20 years with hundreds thousands young and trained sitting in refugee comps from Ethiopia to Sudan and failed to get ten young people to follow you. Now, the man you hate changed the game with one move, PMAA. It is time all opposition members to apologize to the great man, PIA and go home, see your family, visit your country. Game is over!!!

        • saay7

          Hala MaHmuday:

          Much better:)

          Baby steps, but still steps.

          I am concerned about my good friend MS though because based on his definition that Eritrea and Ethiopia were in a state of war between May 1998 and June 2018, a prosecutor can make the case that he was aiding and abetting enemies of the state and giving aid and comfort to the enemy by publicizing their propaganda against the government and people of Eritrea.

          But no worries, us human rights yada yada yada types will bring documents of government officials denying (on TV interviews) that Eritrea and Ethiopia are in a state of war. I think we will appoint Al Arabi to work pro bono on your case 🙂

          saay

          • MS

            Ahlan SAAY
            The great MS can rest assured that he is TsaEda kem Halib meTiq (መንግስትና ለባም እዩ: ናይ “ሕርር ደኣ በል” edition ኣይኮነን). Yes, criticizing policies of a government and aligning with an enemy of a state are two different things. And I’m reassured I don’t need any TaEsa wereqet…
            On a serious matter: you keep repeating “human right yada…yada..”
            Here is what the reader needs to know:
            1. SAAY and I agreed to be honest on our communication and it has been a sacred pact.
            2. I accuse SAAY of treasonous act for violating that sacred pact because he is mischaracterizing my statement of the “yada yada” thing.
            3. Exhinit: The following is how I originally used it
            “Repeating things such as the constitution, human right, the rule of law…yada…yada…are all hollow slogans without taking appropriate measures to realize them.”
            Now, everyone can see the light!
            END//

          • saay7

            Hala MaHmuday:

            On the yada yada it was like you said, here, publicly that you said it so I didn’t violate any trust. A Seinfeld invention, yada yada is different from etc etc: it is dismissive. It refers to something that is too dull and too unworthy to utter. And since I have been hearing the same dismissive attitude about human rights from the self proclaimed patriots I was surprised to hear it from you.

            On the reassurances you have received, I am sure you know by now they are worthless: Aster Yohannes was given personal assurances by Isaias Afwerki himself that no harm will come to her and she doesn’t need permission to return to her country. She was whisked off the airport, while her children and mom were waiting with flowers at Asmara Airport. That was 14 years ago and nobody has heard about her since. Well we did once from someone who escaped prison: and it’s not worth repeating here so we don’t add more pain to her family.

            Saay

          • Amanuel Hidrat

            Dear Saay,

            “መንግስትና ለባም’ዩ” እንዳተባሃልካ እንታይ ኢኻ ኸተጽዒ ትደሊ ዘለኻ? ለባም መንግስቲ’ዶ ብዘይፍርዲ ንታለቲካውያን ይኹን ንመራሕቲ ሃይማኖት: ንቆልዑት ይኹን ንተማህሮ: ንብጸቱ ይኹን ንዘይብጸቱ’ዶ ይአስርድዩ?ጸኒሕናስ ገለ ክንሰምዕ ኢና:: ሕጂ ዘጥፋእካዮ ብጻይ ኣይኮነን ካብ ቀደም ብእምነተ-መሰረት አታሓሳስባኹም አይቃረብን እዩ ነይሩ:: ፍትሒ ይንገስ ዝብልን ንጸረፍሒ መንግስቲ ለባም ዝብልን ብስነኣእምራዊ አተሓሳስባ ይኹን ብስነሓሳባዊ አተሓሳስባ አበይ ይራኸብ:: አይመስለካን አንታ ሳልሕ?

          • saay7

            Emma:

            I think MaHmuday is doing a form of satire. When we were kids, we used to, for laughs, imitate people who walk with a limp and our mothers used to shout at us ከይስነነካ. Mahmuday is doing an imitation of the political lepers and unlike our mothers who put the fear in us, we can’t do it with him. In fact, as an genuine 100% bonafide Eritrean he comes full-to-the-rim stubbornness so the more we tell him to stop, the more of it he will do.

            saay

          • Haile Zeru

            Hi SAAY,

            I have to start saying sorry for this sour note.
            In addition to what Aman H. Has said below in MS you lost a friend (ideologically) that you never had. ረቢ ኤማን ላሃባካ:
            My tigrayit is a little bit rusted but I
            think the traditional answer is እኪት ትስረራካ፣ but you can say whatever you want.

          • saay7

            Selamat Haile Z:

            I think not; I hope not, although to be frank I am not sure. Sometimes, in the Internet world, it is easier to lose friends than to make them.

            I am not sure PFDJ believes in any thing. I was reminded of this when I read Horizon registering his reservation on the Eritrean elite. So, by way of example:

            An Ethiopian TV program was documenting the first flight from Ethiopia to Eritrea. And over all it was heart-warming. The interviewer did a man-on-the-street interview with the great EPLF singer Fihira, who was explaining how he felt using the title of the song he serenaded Isaias and Abiy in the state dinner. In perfect Amharic he told his interviewer that ሕጂ ግርም meant ኣሪፍ ነው Warm fuzzies everywhere. Then there was a party where Yemane G and Osman Saleh did their shy esksta. Everyone is happy. Then at some party, Fihira sang ዓርኪ ሕልፎት, which is basically an itinerary of the EPLA and how it defeated the Derg army in the final days before it entered Asmara. And Ethiopians (who didn’t know the lyrics) were dancing to it. And the singer just converted this very sentimental and historic and proud song (I must have bored you guys with how many times I have posted it here) into a party song.

            It’s surreal. I don’t think the PFDJ (and more and more I am thinking it applies to EPLF) believe in anything except winning. And the Opposition believes in everything except winning.

            saay

          • MS

            Hey SAAY
            Have you declared me persona non grata? Why are all these condolences for losing a great friend called Mahmuday? ዓርከይ Emma will apologize to me tomorrow, that’s for sure. Haile Zeru, ትግራይት is perfect, better than yours. I enjoy him when he comes angry. And these days I’m onto making some folks angry. No more serious politics. Because I was stoned when I came up with great hagerawi and ahgurawi Hatetas. Now that Gnbar Hayt/Semere Andom has been completely decimated and its female General, Hayat Adem, is in captivity, under the mercy of the great General, Nitrickay, we have time to play politics the way it should be played, which is spinning heads…
            WE WILL BE FINE, GREAT DAYS ARE AHEAD!!

          • saay7

            Selamat MS:

            Nah, “personana non grata”, “you will never set your feet in Eritrea” and such like politics of the Middle Ages are the expertise of our ለባም መንግስቲ :). I am from the Big Tent school, no one left behind, even if we have to slow down for our slower fam members to catch up.

            Speaking of stoned, I hear some of our Ethiopian brothers who visited Eritrea are a little disappointed there are no khat joints. With the new Horn of Africa love train, I think we will be left out of the Khat coalition if we don’t open up. We have Asian Tigers, BRICS, and now Khat Belt.

            saay

        • Yohannes Zerai

          Selam Mahmuday,

          An interesting set of demands or candidate-issues for reform. But your proposal is too ambitious; do you not think so? Are you really serious about it – common, you must be joking. Right?

          But, what will you do if President Isaias Afewerki rejects all or most of your “proposals”. You sure must have a Plan B to fall back on should he prove to be rigid and maintain a non-compromising and rejectionist stance on reform as he is known to do just once in a while? What would that plan be if you care to reveal it? Well, never mind; just go ahead with your plans and good luck with them!

    • Yohannes Zerai

      Dear Mahmuday,

      Thank you for you comment in which you raised a number of issues that I hope will open up the discussion. I would be glad to try to address at least those issues/points you addressed to me implicitly or explicitly. But before doing so, let me make the following observations:

      (i) In your comment, I sense resentment and even a tinge of anger towards the entire “opposition camp”. At the risk of appearing to promote “Abiyism” here, I would argue that such does not promote a conducive environment for discussion/debate and I would urge you to let go of your grudges.
      (ii) Referring to some points in the article, you seem to have followed a strategy of picking out some selected strands of my argument, weave them together with your own strands and come up with a thread of argument that distorts any possible debate on my original point. I honestly do not know how to handle such a construct.

      So, as an antidote to both of these uncomfortable situations and to relax the discussion mood a little bit, I will add a generous dose of humor in my response to some of the points you raised and I hope you will not mind it. Please be assured that I am not trying to be sarcastic or anything. So, here we go!

      1. Certainly, violence must be condemned. But we know violence is a staple of the regime’s daily governance of the country. So we should first convince the government to stop engaging in violence before we worry about the potential for some groups engaging in it sometime in the future.

      2. The government will be acknowledged/recognized as soon as it recognizes – in a verifiable manner – the right of the Eritrean people to determine their own destiny (or at the very minimum their right to know when their fate is being secretly negotiated with the government of another country).

      3. Such a call has continued to be made for the last 27 years, but to no avail. Do you think doing so will miraculously work in 2018? If so, I am all for it – let’s do it!

      4.1-4.2 You tell me! Is the government willing to accept an “offer of dialog” with opposition groups? Why do we have to deal with hypotheticals – You seem to be privy to the government’s wishes, preferences, likes and dislikes. So, why do we have to play the guessing game here – why not go straight to dialog if the government is ready to avail itself of the opportunity?

      5. I would very much like – and I am not being sarcastic here – to have some basic information about each of the 35+ (estimated to be even as many as 50+) opposition groups you claim presently exist. Let us first learn a little more about these organizations and then we will think of ways to make them renounce violence and regroup into some manageable number.

      6. Here, it is the government which should be asked to allow multiple parties to function in the country and to legislate laws and regulations to govern their activities. Until that happens, we will let the existing diaspora groups to develop and flourish as “parties in exile”.

      7. That is fine; let us truck down those swindlers of “civil societies” and throw them in jail. After all, who likes swindlers! None, not even PFDJ!

      8. This is a good example of the ”cherry-picking of strands” problem I talked about above. In the article, I mentioned the “cozying up” and “capitulation” of Isaias’ delegation to their hosts. You conveniently ignored the term “capitulation” and proceeded to argue “they were cozying up with a friendly government that had expressed its readiness to engage Eritrea in a respectable manner”. Good for you! If you are happy about it, I am happy too!

      9. I am afraid you are asking too much of the government here. President Isaias Afewerki and his regime have an impressive track record of keeping themselves in power indefinitely. Unfortunately “putting the country first” happens not to be their forte! But keep trying to have them do it somehow; who knows, you may succeed.

      10. You asked me: “Are you still of the idea that the international community should not support Eritrea economically?” You said “are you still”, but did I EVER have such an idea? To remind you, I NEVER said I oppose international community’s economic support of Eritrea. What I said is: I oppose EXTERNAL ECONOMIC ASSISTANCE THAT NEVER BENEFITS THE ERITREAN PEOPLE, AND ENDS UP BEING SWINDLED BY PFDJ. Yes, I do maintain – and will keep maintaining – that position!

      Thank you

      • Ismail AA

        Selam Johannes,

        Just one passing point here. In my view, I wouldn’t read too much in to regime supports, especially the committed among them, not daring to acknowledge existence of organized opposition. It is spelled out view of the Kubur Prezident. You remember the June 20, 1991 “hashewiye” declaration. This is binding until and up to the time Ato Isayas changes it. Until then, it will just remain taboo. The boldest of them may talk about individual “teqawemti” whereas organized opposition are just treasonous phantom groups.

  • Yohannes Zerai

    Selam Hope,

    Would you please expand a little bit on your cryptic comment above and help me bring myself up to date on your point? I have been away for some time and have not been following recent discussions/debates on related threads.

    Thank you

  • Yohannes Zerai

    Dear g. michael,

    I am in full agreement with your astute observations, and I thank you for sharing them with us. As you pointed out, there is a lot of credit due to the opposition (and to elements that make it up) which, unfortunately, even we in the opposition fail to acknowledge. We all tend to be overly critical and at times even disparaging of the movement or groups within it. But, most of it is not ill-intentioned but is a reflection of the frustration we all feel to see the movement “not getting anywhere” while the cruel regime continues to inflict ever-increasing pain on our people and damage on our country. So, we all should be balanced and fair in our assessment of the negative and positive aspects of the movement and the key players therein. Indeed, there must be times when we should enumerate and recognize the achievements of the overall struggle for democratic change.

    The critical need for effective and dedicated leadership of the struggle at the global, regional and local levels is obvious as you have pointed out. The starting point for building such a leadership would involve relieving the aging leaders of the existing groups/parties and having them replaced by members of the “under-40 generation” I spoke of in my last article. Such a long overdue transition should be forced on the groups by their young members, if any. Otherwise, young people should register to join those groups in large numbers and bring about the needed change from within through democratic means – young members should run for office or vote for younger candidates running for office.

    Thank you

  • Hope

    Selam Yohannes:

    In addition to the issues of :

    1)Consensus/membership

    2)Strategy

    3)Intolerance and Division

    Lack of:

    4) Neutrality

    5) Independence

    have played a BIG role in weakening the Opposition.

    The EPDP attempted to achieve the above but ended up breaking up into pieces ,but WHY?

    I guess you answered it partially:

    3)Intolerance and Division

    A very long way to go ;and am afraid that YG’s prediction might be right and spot on,God forbid,that PIA will do every thing to appease Ethiopia and yet keep the status quo on Eritreans but I HOPE I am WRONG as YG has been, for the most part..

  • Haile S.

    Selam Yohannes,
    የውሃንስ ዑፍ መስቀለ
    ጌና ከሎ ከይኣኸለ
    ቅልቅል ኢልካ እንሃለ
    ሰላም ክትስሕን ዝትዓለለ
    ኣብ ከባቢና ዘንበልበለ
    ከተበራብር ትኽስ ዝበለ
    ነቲ ባዕሉ ዝተደጎለ
    ነቲ ብሓሳብ ዝኾብለለ
    ነቲ መገዱ ስሒቱ ዝብል ሰንከልከለ
    ነቲ ዕጭ፡ ሕንፍፍ፡ እንቋዕ’ድኣ፡ ዝለመደ ዝደበለ
    ንዓ’ባ ግደፍ ክትብሎ እንተስብሃለ
    Welcome back

    • Yohannes Zerai

      Dear Haile S.,

      Thank you for the short, but nice poem reminding us all of the urgent need to intensify our involvement in (and contributions to) the national effort for change and, really, for saving the country from disaster. ነቲ ልዙብ መልአኽትኻ ዝበቅዕ መልሲ ብትግርኛ ምሃብ ምተገብኤ፡ ግን እቲ ዓቕሚ ካበይ ይምጻእ!! ብዝኾነ ክብረት ይሃበለይ።

    • Kbrom

      ደግያት ሃይለ ብኹሉ ዝፍቶ
      ብራሕ ዘጽዒ ከም ተፈይቶ
      ስኒት ዝዝምር ከም ባሬቶ
      ሰባር መንጉዳ ሰባር በራቒቶ
      *ወልከምካዮ ሃንስ ደሓን እቶ
      የግዳሺ
      ‘ሰላም ክትስሕን ዝተዓለለ
      ኣብ ከባቢና ዘንበልበለ’
      ዶ በልካዮ ነቲ ዘየለ
      ዶስ ባህጊ ኢዩ እንተተመሰለ

      ብዘይ ሙቐት ኣሎ ዲዩ ምስሓን
      ብዘይ ፍቕሪ ኣሎ ዲዩ ም’ዕላል
      ብዘይ ዘንጊ ኣሎ ዲዩ ምንብልባል
      ብዘይ ክብረት ኣሎ ዲዩ ምንባር
      በቲ ኮነ በቲስ ኣፍካ ደኣ ይስዓር

      *welcome

      • Haile S.

        Selam Kbrom and all,

        ኣያይ ክብሮም ክብሮማይ
        ከማኹም እምበር ዘይብል ከማይ
        ንስኽን እምበር ዘይብል ኣነ ቀዳማይ
        ንዓኹም ዱቃ ኣነ ይኣኽለኒ ማይ
        በሃሊ ሓራም ከም ኣስላማይ
        ደላዪ ንኹሉ ሃብቲ እኽለማይ።

        እዞም የውሃት ኩሉ ዝፈትወና
        ሓሳረ መከራ ጥራይ ዝርኣና
        ናብ መስዋእቲ’ኳ እንተዘይቀረብና
        ብሁከት መዋእል እንሆ ላዲና
        ተባሂሉ ዘይፈልጥ ምስ ሰማዕና
        ተጌሩ ዘይፈልጥ ምስ ርኤና
        ክልተ ኢድ ኣብ ኣፍ ልብና
        ክምጥመጥ ሙዕጉርቲ ጸላኢና
        በሪሮም ክመጹ ትማሊ ሰጎግትና
        ኩሉ ዝከኣሎ ም’ባኣር ኣሎ ኢልና!
        ከበሮ ሰላም ዲም ብማዕዶ ሰሚዕና
        ከም ጥሪ-ዕብዲ* ቆልዓና ቁንቁል ኣፉ ሓዚልና
        እንሄና ነጣቕዕ ምስታ እንኮ ተስፋና
        ዋላኳ ተለጒሙ ከሎ እቲ ኣፍና
        ተዳጒኖም ኣእጋርና ኣእዳውና
        ትጽቢት ጽዮን ይትግበር ይኸውን ኢልና
        ትኣምር ንጽበ ክመጽእ መፍትሕ መቑሕ ሒዙልናይ
        መራሒ ይከኣሎ ጎይታ ሃገርና ቀዳዊና
        እነምልኾ ተቓዋሚ ኣምላኽ ስለ ዝስኣንና
        “ዲሞክራሲያዊ” ፋሕ ብትን ስለ ዘይተረድኣና
        ንሱ ኮይኑ ተሪፉ መገዲ ትምኒትና
        “ቅዱስ” ኢሰያስ ኣይትጋደፈና
        ዝተላዕለ ካብ ዓቕሊ ጽበትና።

        To Yohannes:
        Thank you for your nice words. Here you have beside you another true poet in the name of Kbrom.
        I try to connect the notes
        You guys connect the dots
        You are the true poets.

        * ካብ መጽሓፍ ምቁር መርዚ ብበርሀ ኣርኣያ

        • Yohannes Zerai

          Dear Haile S. and Kibrom,

          Yes Haile, I can see that from his “sample writing” above!

          The posts from both of you made me say: “What a double-bliss: the beauty of the language and the potency of the message.” Thank you both for the energizing treat.

  • Amanuel Hidrat

    Selam Yohannes,

    Glad to see you back, and as such with such an article to drive us home back, in order to focus on our problem. As usual your contribution were/are focused on solution oriented to our predicaments. We are glad to have people like you when we are veered off from our issue could pull us to our home tariffs to work and change the quality of life of our destitute people. Please stay with us, your contribution is highly valuable to the on going debate. Again welcome back.

    • Yohannes Zerai

      Selam Amanuel,

      Your words of encouragement are greatly appreciated.

      Needless to say, we must keep abreast of the changes and developments occurring in neighboring countries and our region as a whole. But such should not be done at the expense of dealing with the pressing issues/needs of our own country. In other words, we need to focus on the affairs of our suffering people and floundering nation in the context of the unfolding political and diplomatic changes in our region. We need to move with the times and think critically if we are to be able to proactively participate in shaping events (as opposed to finding ourselves helplessly reacting to events imposed on us). To be able to do all of these, we need to discuss and debate issues; and we must exchange ideas and opinions thereby improving the level of understanding and unity among ourselves.

      Thank you

  • Mitiku Melesse

    Hei, Yohanes.
    It is nice of you to change the focus to Eritrea. It is always difficult to talk about Ethiopia or Eritrea without mentioning the other one. That much involved into one another. But you have done your best. But, there is always but; you mentioned all but the majority of Eritreans at home.. How do they receive the good news? Is there different views between who support the government and oppose?

    When you say oppositions, are they groups, parties or just simple individuals? Which is the strongest opposition party of Eritrea? Do they have unity etc?

    • Yohannes Zerai

      Dear Mitiku Melesse,

      Thank you for your useful comment in which you interestingly picked out an important deficiency in the article: absence of any reference to the views/opinions of Eritreans inside the country.

      1. As you know, one can glean the general opinion/reaction of the diaspora population because of the availability of multiple sources of information – both Eritrean and non-Eritrean ones. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said about the situation inside Eritrea. The country permits no independent media, no foreign journalists or news bureaus; and the few state-controlled news outlets feel no obligation to inform Eritreans inside or outside of the country (or anyone else, for that matter) even about the regime’s own decisions and actions much less about the feelings and opinions of the people. Thus under these conditions, trying to generalize anything about Eritreans inside the country would simply be speculation rather than fact-based. That is why I was forced to exclude any reference to “views from home” from my article.

      2. Given the regime’s extremely repressive ways and the fear it has instilled in the population, it is difficult to determine if what you see people doing (or hear people saying) are genuine expressions of their true feelings OR if they are pretensions staged so as appear to conform with the official line.

      3. Finally, to answer your question, I generally use the word “opposition” to refer to political groups/parties. Beyond that, I am afraid I am not able to answer your questions about the nature of the elements within the opposition movement to your satisfaction. This is because I am not well informed about the nature of these entities, their objectives, plans, strategies, etc. and how they interact with each other. In general, however, I do not mind having all the elements you listed in your comment play their respective roles in the struggle so long as they do not attack each other and undermine each other’s endeavors. My wish has always been to see any or all of these elements – especially the political groups – confidently and verifiably reveal the size of their respective registered memberships, establish and efficiently run chapters with reasonable geographic distribution, hold regular – at least annual – conventions, congresses, etc. attended by all or majority of their membership. Unfortunately, I remain disappointed in this regard since none of them has managed to live up to my expectations.

      Thank you.

      • Mitiku Melesse

        Thanks, Yohannes.

        About the oppositions abroad I have gathered enough info directly speaking with Eritreans, Internets, and even one kind of lecture by Norwegians who had mission to assess the reason for the mass exodus from Eritrea. I even learn supporters of the government can ask asylum based of Ethiopian aggression. So my first paragraph in my first reply to you was only about oppositions inside Eritrea. And you answered that too indirectly.

        In my opinion there is no such organized Eritrean opposition. If there was then …(i am fighting the temptation what Ethiopians….)

        My another question is what do you say about the mass exodus or fleeing from Eritrea? I mean dont you think it is playing negative roll where people who left Eritrea their freedom of speech is the sky is the limit and at home the exact opposite.? In my opinion if people stay at home they come up with a solution than being prisoners of terror. The opposition propaganda terrorizes people.

  • Ismail AA

    Selam Yohannes Z.

    Man, glad that my anticipation didn’t betray me. After missing your unmissable inputs,
    especially during the past few weeks when you contribution were very much needed, it’s joy to read your brutal but necessary assessment within proper contexts be that on the Ethiopia scene or on the Eritrean side with two camps – regime and opposition.

    There is no gainsaying that for us Eritreans the events we watch unfolding could turn the page on our body politic and produce a new political landscape populated by new alignment of forces. The over two decades political and social life of our nation has been witnessing havoc on all fronts perpetrated by savage dictatorship with unbridled authority
    on depressed and frightened population whose vital and productive sectors have been pushed to an extreme where they could only see the future in exile at risk of death and humiliation . Desperation has come full circle with hopelessly polarized and weak opposition.

    The current, at least at face value, unhindered changes that events in Ethiopia have unleashed could push the cloud of change towards the skies over Eritrea and distill to clement drops that may nourish the dry social and political soil inside the country. The rationales the dictatorship has been peddling may begin to tear asunder, and the
    people, especially the defense forces, may start asking questions. Needless to state perhaps, dictatorships during the last phase of their existence do face crises in concocting reasons to sustain themselves.

    Here in our case, too, it could be argued despotism and the despot may be living through the last quarter of existence and face bankruptcy to buy time through hitherto known subterfuges and frauds. The behavior the despot has exhibited in reacting to Ethiopia’s peace and normalization overture could give more than a clue about inner feelings of the dictator. A man who never been witnessed to smile let alone laugh his heart out appeared to had exposed himself to see the good doctor Prime Minister of Ethiopia as Heaven sent savior.

    The crucial challenges the new political and diplomatic circumstances will have before any one visit the Eritrean opposition and how to deal with chosen roles. As already mentioned all of the stakeholders will be faced by the hitherto illusive question of what to do. Everyone from own position will look around and conclude that doing alone option has so far proven failure. Even some of the regime surrogates who have wandering on the grey areas of the opposition landscape will have to realign add their voices to broaden and authenticate the opposition space.

    Briefly put, thus, the inevitable challenges as you have very well elaborated should make the diaspora look towards the home front and the latter should notice and provide the wink. It’s here, in my humble opinion, the search in the path of national consensus
    through mutual trust and tolerance should start. If this first step becomes meaningful and executable, then drawing common opposition strategy that can facilitate mercy killing the decaying dictatorship and its aging despot will need. One point that needs to be noted is
    dialogue among the opposition organizations and parties might become a bit easier due to the fact that the opposition undergrowth that have been posing as virtual veto wielders might have lost enablers. The mainstream opposition forces with patriotic credentials but lacked resources could now be in position to soberly review reasons for their existence and break barriers that hindered them to embark on building trust among them before they sell it to the general public.

    Excellent read; thank you John.

    • Yohannes Zerai

      Selam Ismailo,

      Thank you for your thoughtful opinion and for the pleasant and positive attitude your comment conveys. Just to elaborate on a couple of issues you mentioned in your comment:

      1. It is plainly obvious that the Eritrean leader is busy making changes/adjustments in his foreign relations for the sole purpose of strengthening his position politically and economically, not out of concern for Eritrea’s well being. There is not the slightest indication that these external changes will be accompanied (or followed) by a measure of change in the regime’s domestic policy. Indeed, the fact that his state-controlled media refused to carry detailed reports on his Ethiopian visit – information that was regularly and extensively disseminated by the Ethiopian media – is unmistakable sign that Isaias & Co. plan to tighten, rather than relax, their suffocating grip on rights and liberties of citizens. So, he is basically working to improve his standing and legitimacy in the regional and international arena which, in turn, will allow him to entrench himself and insure continuity of his tyrannical rule.

      2. It is undeniable that even apparently small events that occur in our region – let alone those of the magnitude we are witnessing to day – have the potential of impacting conditions in member countries in more ways than we can imagine. But it does not follow that the peace and reconciliation process underway in the region will be a panacea for Eritrea’s varied and fundamental domestic problems. Far from it! So, I am trying to emphasize that Eritrean people’s struggle for justice and democracy must continue unabated although the movement will need to upgrade its strategies and action plans so as to absorb the impact of the developments that are taking place in our region.

      Thank you

      • Ismail AA

        Selam Yohannes,

        I couldn’t have said it better. We are on the same page. Our focus should be on finding direction towards the best strategy and concomitant tactics that that can harmonize the subjective and objective challenges facing the Eritrean people’s search of ways to challenge the aging dictatorship and its leader who seems to have realized he is on board of shaking ship, and throwing hands in whatever direction help for survival could be procured. From Islamic Iran to Sudan, then to Saudi Arabia and Bin Zaid and now Ethiopia under Abij-Lemma partnership.

        As I tried to point out in my earlier rejoinder the mainstream opposition has chance to come to common platform because much of the ideological and political undergrowth which the past decade and half has seen could ,by and large, lose power of impact due to the events in Ethiopia. I am at least aware some of the organizations that function on basis of national democratic programs have started to consult and appraise the new situation, which I think is a good start that could lead to do-able national task program.