The Eritrean students conference opened on Monday August 13, 2012 in Addis Ababa at the Arat Kilo university campus.
The attendees are estimated to be around 450 .
Unlike previous meetings, cell phones were not allowed in the Arat Kilo conference.
Dr. Yusuf Berhanu and Mr. Yohannes Asmelash, the chairman and the deputy chairman, respectively, of the Eritrean National Conference for Democratic Change, gave speeches at the opening.
Also attending were delegates from the Youth Conference which was held in Bishuftu, Ethiopia just last month. There were discussions on whether the youth delegates, all executive members elected at the Youth Conference, should be part of the secretariat of the student conference but this was objected to, primarily from students who feel they were excluded and not represented at the youth conference.
This is the third conference of an Eritrean social group that is being convened in Ethiopia since September 2011. The first one, in September 2011, assembled “intellectuals and professionals”, the second one, in July 2012, was for a “youth dialogue forum” and the third one, now in session, is for Eritrean students in Ethiopia.
In addition, the Eritrean National Conference for Democratic Change (ENCDC, aka Bayto) was held in Awassa, Ethiopia in November 2011. As envisioned, the ENCDC was supposed to co-ordinate the activities of Eritrean political organization, and civil society including youth and women’s organizations but it has been, according to many of its elected representatives, incapacitated for the last 9 months.
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