In any social struggle, getting support from neighboring countries is natural. If we take our case, without the support of the Sudanese people and government it would have been difficult to achieve independence, if not impossible. Similarly with the support of the Ethiopian people we were able to struggle against the late Ethiopian governments of Haile Sellassie and the DERG..
In fact during their struggle for independence the Eritrean people got support from the Ethiopian democratic forces, the TPLF, OLF and other organizations. I think many Eritreans miss this fact. Before and after the independence, the present Ethiopian government has contributed a lot to the Eritrean cause. During the armed struggle the TPLF recognized the Eritrean cause. After the end of the armed struggle the EPRDF government had supported and recognized Eritrea as a sovereign state. Even after the Badme war, the present Ethiopian government has taken a firm stand towards the sovereignty of Eritrea.
Therefore, what is the so called negative attitude of the Ethiopian government towards Eritrean sovereignty? Where is the Ethiopian intervention in the Eritrean internal affairs?
It is known that the Eritrean regime uses this technique of misinformation to isolate the Eritrean opposition organizations and parties from getting support from the Ethiopian government. It knows that the main country which supports the Eritrean struggle for democracy at this time is Ethiopia. So, one cannot be surprised when upon hearing such propaganda from the despotic regime in Asmara.
However, it is very surprising when we hear an Eritrean opposition organization (party) or individual blaming the Ethiopian government for its “meddling in the Eritrean internal affairs”.
My intention is not to defend the Ethiopian government against the baseless accusation. Nor is my intention to offend anybody for that matter. But at this juncture of time, I cannot understand it when some members of opposition organizations raise this issue, instead of trying to rescue the Eritrean people and country by any means.
What the Ethiopian government is doing is trying to help the Eritrean people to solve their own problems. It advises and encourages the opposition to unite and get rid of the totalitarian regime, rather than disunite. The Ethiopian government allows tens of thousands of refugees and gives the youth the chance to continue their education. Recently, I participated in the National Conference for Democratic Change and the seminar of Eritrean intellectuals and professionals held in Addis Ababa. In those meetings, Issues about the Eritrean nationalities were raised. The Ethiopian political view on those issues was very clear. They believe the solution for the Eritrean issues cannot be the same as the Ethiopian solutions. They say Eritrea must have its own solution based on Eritrean context.
Why do some Eritrean opposition organizations or parties complain about “the intervention of the Ethiopian government in the Eritrean internal affairs”? The complaint is a scapegoat for their failure in the power struggle.
When I write an article, it is not my intention to offend anybody. But as a matter of fact, when the EPDP had a conflict on the issue of the National Conference for a Democratic Change, and left the EDA, it began to complain about the “Ethiopian intervention in the internal Eritrean affairs”. Before then, it did not show any sign of such kind of thought. In my view such complaint never had any basis.
Recently, I read an article titled, “National Dialogue with partners for a common strategy” written by Fesseha Nair whom I praise for his contribution as a writer in the struggle for democracy, and I respect him. However, I strongly disagree with his article in general, particularly when he said: “Ownership- without ownership, there is no sustainability and thus no long-term effects. The ongoing discussions among Eritrean political and civic organizations for democratic change how much their organization of dialogues and conferences are owned by them is not clear. A congress without this perspective is not a congress. Many are recommending that how much do we own this congress? It is not only that we conducted a congress but who cares- that the congress should lead us to practical and sustainable results. A congress conducted by intervention of supporting countries is not sustainable. (See Darfur, Somalian………. And many others)”
Which country is he referring to in the last sentence of the following paragraph? It is obvious he means Ethiopia.
Nair is an Executive member of Eritrean Federal Democratic Movement “EFDM”. His organization is enjoying the support from the Ethiopian government equally as the other opposition organizations and parties. I would like to ask Nair where the intervention of Ethiopia is? Does he mean that supporting oppressed people is considered intervention? More importantly, I think it is appropriate for EFDM to give a statement on this article, since Nair is an executive member of the organization. Otherwise, silence is considered acceptance.
In a similar manner, I heard that more opposition organizations or parties within the EDA are sounding such complaints. This is happening on the eve of National Congress for Democratic Change. Again, this is scapegoat for their failure not to move forward in the ongoing struggle. They have to blame themselves rather than someone who tries to help the Eritrean people. This kind of allegation serves the PFDJ regime and websites like Meskerem. It is amazing. On the other hand, such organizations and parties know very well that if Ethiopia does not support the ongoing struggle, it will be a simple submission to the PFDJ regime. Since Sudan had already closed its doors. There is limited alternative.
Weakness is not a crime by itself. But a false propaganda to weaken the struggle is a crime. One of the weaknesses of such organizations or parties is not being able to organize and bring to their side the many young Eritreans who are leaving their country to exile. In almost all the parties and organizations we do not see the young generation replacing the old leadership. The young generation is not encouraged to participate in the struggle. This is a serious matter. Without the participation of the young generation we cannot defeat the PFDJ regime.
One of the complains is that Ethiopia is helping to organize the Eritrean youth to participate in the ongoing struggle. Ethiopia should in fact be praised for such a wonderful job. But some opposition organizations and parties have other interests. In my opinion, their main aim is not regime change, but who comes in power after the fall of the PFDJ?
When I bitterly criticized the opposition organizations and parties in the seminar of the Eritrean Intellectuals and professionals, a participant from one of the organizations asked me: “Adhanom! Why do you put us all in one basket?” It is true some organizations are better than the others. But generally there must be a change within the whole opposition organizations and parties.
Presently, the date of the National Congress for Democratic Change is extended for one month. I myself would have preferred it to be held at the initial date, assuming that the commission had finished its preparation. I believe also that the one-month prolonging can bring little difference for those who demanded the extension. However, whatever their motive, I support the commission for being flexible and its compromise for the success of the national congress. And I appeal to every freedom loving Eritrean to stand behind and support the commission to do their job.
“In a just cause it is right to be confident. There is no success without hardship” Sophocles
What is to be done? How can we overcome the vicious circle of power struggle among the opposition parties and organizations? How do we get rid off a party-interest-based struggle?
I think such questions should be addressed properly. The mechanism to solve such problems is to organize a national congress for a democratic change. This congress brings all the stakeholders who have interest in a regime change in the country together. The representatives from every section of the society must discuss and debate the ways and means of first and foremost how to bring about a regime change in Eritrea. We have to overcome the party-interest-based struggle. For the sake of the salvation of the nation, all organizations and parties should suspend their organizational and party activities at this stage. All of them should work under one organ (umbrella). All political, military financial and diplomatic activities should be run by one leadership. The individual tasks of organizations and parties should be done in the second stage, after the fall of PFDJ and the end of its era. I am not an expert in this area but there must be a platform somehow in which all the opposition forces must function collectively under one umbrella, call it parliament in exile or any transitional organ in which its main objective is to topple the PFDJ regime and transfer the power to the people. And I believe if we are united in the coming congress we can do this and the majority of the Eritrean people will support us.
Victory to the Eritrean National Congress for Democratic Change